The federal government at the weekend said that it was set to revive the over $22 billion abandoned Brass Liquefied Natural Gas (BLNG) in Bayelsa in a bid to ramp up the production and supply of the commodity.
Speaking during an inspection of the project site, in Twon Brass, Bayelsa State, with management of Greenville LNG, an interested investor in the project, Minister of State, Petroleum, Mr Timipre Sylva, said the government was desirous of completing the project because of the manifold economic benefits it will bring to the nation.
The Brass LNG, which has trains 1-4 concept, with an annual projected capacity of 8.4 million metric tons, was initiated in 2005 with the ground-breaking ceremony performed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on May 14, 2007.
For over 17 years ago, the project has failed to take a foothold, with a key investor, Conoco Philips eventually exiting the deal that would have led to the take-off of the project which was said to have consumed about $1.2bn as of 2011.
This sum included the cost of acquiring the land, Front End Engineering Design (FEED) and Pre-FEED Concept Evaluation Study (PFCES) as well as the project Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Initially, the BLNG had a number of shareholders, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) with 49 per cent shares while Conoco Philips, Total and ENI International had 17 per cent shares each.
It is estimated that the inability to make progress on the project has robbed the country of over $24 billion in revenues and about 18, 000 direct jobs.
Sitting on 606 hectares of land, the Final Investment Decision (FID) for the critical gas project was supposed to have been taken since 2007, with investment expected to have been recouped in the first five years.
It was conceived and designed to assist in monetising the nation’s natural gas resources, reduce gas flaring and create jobs for Niger Delta youths.
But a statement by the minister’s spokesman, Horatius Egua, explained that Sylva was joined on the tour of the project site by the Chairman and Managing Director of Greenville LNG, Mr Eddy Van Den Broeke and Ritu Sahajwalla
It quoted the minister as saying that the federal government would give the project top priority because of its present policy thrust in gas exploration in the country.
Sylva stated that since the government is planning on refocusing its energy on tapping its abundant gas resources, it was looking for new investors to take up the project from its current comatose state.
“You know the direction of the government as far as gas is concerned. We want to use gas as transition fuel and also to use it to diversify our economy. You know that with gas you can get so many things and I have said that we can truly diversify our economy through gas,” he said.
The minister who acknowledged the challenges faced in successfully executing the project in the past, noted that the government would do everything possible to encourage Greenville NLG in investment in partly funding the multi-billion dollar infrastructure.
“We want this project to pull through this time and we will do everything possible to ensure that the final investment decision is taken as soon as possible.
“Greenville LNG is a major player in this sector and we know that they are committed to ensuring that the take-off of this project is achieved. We will continue to discuss and offer the necessary incentives to get this project off the ground,” Sylva added.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for “creating the enabling environment” for businesses in the country, the minister urged western nations to shore up their investments in the oil and gas sector in the country.
He lamented the speed with which investments were pulled out of Nigeria in the past, saying that it hampered the growth of the sector.
“We are calling for more investments in the hydrocarbons sector of the economy especially in gas. We are encouraging companies interested in gas to do so. We have enough gas reserves in the country and we are encouraging anyone with capacity to bring in their investments,” Sylva noted.
Present investors in the Brass LNG project are the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Eni and Total.
For weeks, Nigeria has been under pressure from Europe to ramp up its gas production and supply to the continent, an opportunity the government has failed to take advantage of due to lack of infrastructure.
Culled from THISDAY