By Chineme Okafor
Centrica, an integrated energy company operating predominantly in the United Kingdom and North America, LNG Japan and Mittal Group, have all indicated interests in joining the board of Nigeria’s Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas (OKLNG) project, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said.
NNPC in a statement from its General Manager, Public Affairs, Dr. Levi AJuonuma, yesterday in Abuja, disclosed that the three energy firms were willing to join the project board, thus, replacing the BG Group which had withdrawn from it.
Ajuonuma said that the willingness of the parties to become partners to the OKLNG project came on the heels of its strong recommendation by the Shell Global Solutions International (SGSI), a global leader in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) technology, marketing and investment consultancy.
He said SGSI has confirmed OKLNG as a sound project with good fundamentals capable of taking advantage of world LNG market opportunities in the year 2018, but only if it proceeds rapidly to implementation stage now.
According to him, everything was being done to get the project on stream just in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s aspiration to turn Nigeria into a regional hub for gas and other related products.
He noted that SGSI came up with the verdict on OKLNG after an in depth strategy review on how best to progress the project into implementation, adding that the verdict serves as a vote of confidence on the project against the backdrop of the withdrawal of BG Group which he considered as the smallest of OKLNG’s partner.
In his explanation of the withdrawal of BG Group from the OKLNG project, Ajuonuma said: “It did not come as a surprise considering that BG has been engaging NNPC on disposing off their upstream assets in the country.
BG’s withdrawal is consistent with earlier engagements it has had with NNPC and it will not in any way affect the project negatively as other shareholders will either exercise their right to take up the shares or allow any of the numerous investors angling to get on board to buy the shares.”
He listed some of the companies willing to come on board the project to include Centrica, LNG Japan and Mittal Group.
OKLNG project was established in 2005 with NNPC as the major shareholder with 46.75 percent shareholding, Shell and Chevron have 19.5 percent apiece, while BG Group which has withdrawn had 14.25 percent.
Accordingly, the project has since accomplished Front End Engineering Design (FEED), and concluded initial work on gas supply, financing and resettlement action plan. The pioneer camp of the project from where the first set of construction staff will operate was recently commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.
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