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Nigeria loses almost half its power output after pipeline fire

[LAGOS] A fire at a Nigerian pipeline interrupted gas supplies to companies generating more than 3,000 megawatts in Africa's most populous nation, the government said.

The fire at the Escravos-Lagos pipeline owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp in the southern Edo state required a shutdown of the pipeline supplying gas to the 1,320-megawatt Egbin power plant, the nation's biggest, and five others, according to an emailed statement by the Power, Works and Housing Ministry. The interruption tripped the national transmission grid on Tuesday, it said.

Most of Nigeria's power is from thermal generation. The gas produced by oil and gas companies is delivered to the power stations through pipelines owned and operated by Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company, a unit of state-owned NNPC.

Electricity production in Africa's biggest oil producer is hampered by inadequate gas supply and power infrastructure. The nation, which has about 180 million people, generated a record 7,000 megawatts in December, 5,155 megawatts of which was distributed, the ministry said. South Africa, with a third of the population, has capacity to make more than 40,000 megawatts.

The state-run Transmission Company of Nigeria, which owns and operates the national grid, and the generating companies are working to restore operations, according to the statement.

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