Nigeria Defers Plan to Slash Gas Supply to Ghana

Nigeria has deferred a plan to slash gas exports to Ghana beginning Friday over an outstanding debt of $181 million, alleviating a threat that could have worsened electricity blackouts and caused another headache for the government.

The West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAGPCo) said it was "cautiously optimistic" that Nigeria's N-Gaz consortium would accept a payment plan by Ghana's power generation company, the Volta River Authority (VRA), after talks in Accra next week.

Ghana gets around 25 percent of its power through gas from Nigeria that flows through the pipeline via Benin and Togo and the threat by N-Gaz to reduce volumes by 70 percent would have raised the cost of supply.

The issue is sensitive for President John Mahama's government ahead of elections next year that are expected to be closely fought. The ruling party already faces an economy that has slowed sharply and power cuts that have angered voters.

Mahama has vowed to end the blackouts by the start of next year and his minister for power, Kwabena Donkor, has said he will resign if the problem has not been fixed by then.

"By next week we are expecting a way forward ... There appears to be a will by all the parties to resolve the issue without the flow of gas being cut off," Harriet Wereko-Brobby, spokeswoman for the pipeline company, told Reuters.