Abu Dhabi National Energy Company is seeking to build on Ghana's first public-private partnership in power generation to exploit strong growth in Africa, and to gain access to the continent's burgeoning oil and gas sector.
The company, know as Taqa, this week began an expansion project at a power plant in the Ghanaian oil town of Takoradi. The plant operates as an independent power project, the public-private partnership model used by Taqa to expand internationally.
"We see opportunities here not just in power but also through our value chain, so in oil and gas we have to try and broaden our footprint around this business," said Carl Sheldon, Taqa's chief executive, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion.
Ghana is one of Africa's most promising economies, and its potential has grown with the development of its oil reserves in recent years. But the country has experienced blackouts this year as gas supplies from Nigeria have been disrupted. Priority has now been given to develop gas resources that can feed into power plants in a country where demand has increased by up to 10 per cent per annum recently.
The focus is on gas from the Jubilee field off the shores of Takoradi, which has been the source of most of Ghana's oil.
"I am confident that the target of processing and supplying our own gas from the Jubilee field to our power plants by the end of this year is achievable," said John Mahama, Ghana's president, at the ceremony.
Taqa has identified processing gas from the Jubilee field as a way to expand business in the country.
The company also wants to grow its power portfolio in Ghana, which it hopes will serve as a platform for regional expansion.
"It's certainly a springboard for us to grow throughout the rest of Africa. We've been approached by other countries," said Frank Perez, Taqa's head of power and water operations. "We think Africa has several decades of good growth and a huge need for power as they develop their natural resources and their growing economy."
Ghana's president has laid out plans to double generation capacity to 5,000 megawatts by 2016, and hopes to exceed this target to become an exporter of electricity to its neighbours in two years' time.
Mr Mahama is looking to private players to grow Ghana's power sector. "The role of independent power producers such as Taqa […] have become vital and important," he said.
Taqa, which operates the largest power portfolio in the Mena region alongside oil and gas assets in the Middle East, North America and Europe, plans to spearhead its expansion into Africa with power projects.
"Generally what we try to do is where power goes, our oil and gas guys try and follow throughout the region, as we try to redeploy capital from the West towards the eastern markets," said Mr Perez.
Taqa took control of the Takoradi plant in 2007, buying a 90 per cent stake from the previous owner Volta River Authority.
The extension will involve the plant's two turbines being augmented with steam turbines that recycle heat to boost the power output by about 50 per cent to 340MW, sufficient to supply 15 per cent of Ghana's electricity.