20 September 2012

Nigeria: FG, Shareholders Make U.S.$51 Billion From NLNG in 13 Years

The Federal Government and other shareholders of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project have earned $51 billion in revenues from the sale of liquefied natural gas in the past 13 years.

Speaking Wednesday when he visited the NLNG plant in Bonny Island, Rivers State, former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), stated that the plant also delivered $9 billion in dividends to the Federal Government and paid $10 billion to the joint venture companies during the period under review.

Gowon, who stated that the country only produced its first liquefied natural gas in 1999, after 42 years of crude oil exports, noted that the Nigeria LNG project would have earned $130 billion over the 35 years of inactivity when it was first conceptualised in the 1970s.

He further disclosed that the proposed Train Seven of the NLNG would provide 10,000 construction jobs and also attract over $8 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

According to him, the proposed train would also help reduce gas flares and ensure the monetisation of the country's huge gas resources.

He urged the Federal Government and other stakeholders to commence the construction of the seventh train, adding that the NLNG, which used to be the fastest growing LNG plant in the world, should not be allowed to fail.

"It is seven years since activities leading up to Train Seven started in September 2005, five years since sales and purchase agreements were executed with five international buyers, and five years since pre-FID (final investment decision) construction activities started in April 2007, with $300 million spent so far on such activities as soil preparation, preloads, and geotechnical investigations on Bonny Island. We can no longer afford to delay or dither," he said.

Gowon said that with Nigeria's 187 trillion cubic metres of proven gas reserves estimated to last for 109 years and about 600 trillion cubic metres of unproven reserves expected to last for about 300 years, the country has more than enough gas to meet its domestic and export market commitments.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Nigeria LNG Limited, Mr. Babs Omotowa, disclosed that the plant's six-train facility has a capacity for 22 million metric tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of LNG and up to 5 Mtpa of natural gas liquids.

He noted that the company had grown from its well-earned reputation as the world's fastest growing LNG plant to a facility with stable production.

According to him, the company sends one cargo of LNG everyday down the Bonny River to buyers all over the world, adding that the company currently accounts for eight per cent of global LNG supplies.

Omotowa stated that as the single biggest contributor to government's efforts to diversify the Nigerian economy, the company currently accounts for five per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He said the Nigeria LNG project has assets worth over $13 billion, adding that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owns 49 per cent of these assets.

"Bonny Island has made tremendous progress from being an outpost for the export of crude oil since the 1960s. We are only too happy to show you how NLNG has grown from so many botched attempts into the single largest private sector investment in sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

In a related development, a United States District Court has dropped its probe into a former unit of Italian oil and gas group, Eni, over the alleged bribing of Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts to build the NLNG facility on Bonny Island valued, at the time of construction, at more than $6 billion.

Eni said in a statement yesterday that the closure of the investigation concludes the US criminal proceedings against Snamprogetti Netherlands BV, a former indirect subsidiary of Eni and current subsidiary of Saipem, which is 43 per cent controlled by Eni.

Paris-based Technip SA, Snamprogetti Netherlands BV, and US-based Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. (KBR), a subsidiary of the US conglomerate Halliburton, were among the companies involved in the long-running bribery case in which former US Vice-President Dick Cheney was quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had in 2010, filed criminal charges against Snamprogetti, as part of the TSKJ consortium, for corruption of Nigerian public officials regarding LNG plants contracts scam. The oil giant had agreed to pay $240 million in a deferred prosecution agreement.

However, the DOJ had stated that it would drop the charges after two years if anti-corruption measures were put in place.

The Tokyo-based construction and engineering company, JGC Corporation, last year agreed to pay a $218.8 million fine for its role in bribing Nigerian government officials to obtain the EPC contracts, which brought to $1.5 billion, the total penalties obtained by the DOJ as a result of the corruption case.

The EFCC had in 2010 dropped charges against Cheney who headed Halliburton for several years after a settlement of $250 million.

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