5 March 2010

Nigeria: Brass LNG Invites Contractors to Tender

Lagos — The Board of Brass LNG Ltd yesterday in London, approved the launching of the Invitation to Tender (ITT), a technical instrument that opens the lead for contractors to fully participate financially, in the multi-billion dollar project. The shareholders of the company are Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Agip, ConocoPhillips and Total.

A THISDAY source at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London where the meeting held quoted the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, at the end of the meeting as saying that the ITT instrument was the industry's technical Final Investment Decision (FID) and it represents what he called a major milestone in the execution of the Brass LNG project.

He said the ITT was also an instrument that assures all prospective contractors and LNG buyers of the shareholders' irrevocable decision, commitment and ability to build the project was no longer in doubt.

Addressing the major investors on gas supply, Gaius-Obaseki said: "The resource is there and the willingness is also there."

However, investigation further revealed that in spite of the assurances, another hurdle to cross is whether the gas producers will be able to produce the gas needed under the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) fiscal regime.

Addressing this concern as being raised by international oil companies, the Board chairman said: "I can't sit in the Board that will champion anti-government policy. Therefore, what we can do is to ask government for the project's enablers or incentives."

When the present administration came on board and observed a proliferation of free zones, it decided to cancel them and this also included LNG Ltd.

Gaius-Obaseki was then said to have prevailed on the Board and shareholders to bear with him for his presence on the Board was expected to provide national comfort and therefore could not encourage criticism of government policies.

He advised that wherever they felt the policies were harsh on the project, "we could ask for project enablers. In the course of that, the commander-in-chief granted a direct port status to the Brass LNG Ltd and the project has continued to enjoy support of all since it began activities on the Brass Island, Bayelsa State".

Industry sources also said that there are not many projects, if any, like Brass LNG Ltd, where pre-FID investment on ground is almost $700 million.

Giving more light to the ITT milestone, Gaius-Obaseki said: "The ITT means that the shareholders have resolved, irrevocably, to pursue the execution of the project; that is why they are inviting contractors to bid.

"Now, the shareholders will engage the Federal Government on the resolution of the commercial hurdles that affect profitability and the speed and success of the engagement will determine when the FID will be taken."

The Brass LNG Board chairman, who was Group Managing Director of the NNPC, also said that the project was apt and would facilitate the post-amnesty programme of the federal government in providing employment and not necessarily handouts being given to the people at the end of every month.

" Because when in full steam, it will employ up to 8,000 workers, many of who will be drawn from the host communities - that are in the heart of the Niger Delta region of the country," he said.

Present at the Board meeting were managing director of the company, Mr. Vicenzo Di Lorenzo; Managing Director, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Mr. Ciro Pagano (for ENI); Mick Jarvis and Jarrot Handy of ConocoPhillips; Gerard Urier of Total; Chief Bio Ibogomo-Gbeyasa, (NNPC); Muhammed Buba (NNPC); Thierry Bourgeois (Total); Luca de Caro (ENI); Mohammed Buhari (NNPC); GM, Brass Facilities, Joao de Oliveira; and the Company Secretary and Legal Adviser, Brass LNG Ltd, Dalhatu Makama.

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