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Thursday, February 29, 2024

NNPCl, UTMOL partner to push down cost of cooking gas

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd. and UTM Offshore Ltd. on Thursday signed the Heads of Terms Agreement to provide clean energy to Nigerians through the UTM FLNG Project.

The signing ceremony, which took place in Abuja, allows 20 per cent equity contribution of the NNPCL in the UTM FLNG Project.

The agreement is a significant step towards growing the gas market and making cooking gas more accessible and affordable for consumers.

Mr Julius Rone, Group Managing Director, UTM Offshore Ltd., promoter of the project, said the signing, joint effort not only aim to bring down and stabilise the price of cooking gas, but also has the potential to create a healthier environment.

According to him, it will bring investment opportunities and numerous direct and indirect employment opportunities for Nigerians.

He noted that it was  encouraging to see such initiatives that promote the well-being of the people and the economy.

The Front-End Engineering Design (FEED), is already on in Lagos, Yokohama and Paris with JGC, Technip and indigenous companies acting as consultants.

 Rone, who spoke on how important that stage of the project is, said that  it would enable UTMOL to have an idea about the project cost, prepare a full budget and work towards the FID, noting, particularly, that it could not be skipped.

“Final Investment Decision (FID) is expected to be taken in the fourth quarter of 2023 with planned project start-up in the fourth quarter of 2026.

“When completed, it will produce 1.7mmtpa of LNG and 300,000 metric tons of LPG (cooking gas) which will be fully dedicated to the domestic market.

“The project is estimated to provide direct employment for 3,000 Nigerians and another indirect employment for an additional 4,000 people.

 “The LPG produced will help bring down the price of cooking gas, improve the socioe-conomic wellbeing of Nigerians, reduce deforestation and attendant carbon emission,” Rone added.

According to him, the facility which will be located about 60km offshore at 64m water depth, will be built by reputable engineering companies – JGC of Japan and Technip of France – with the support of KBR as the Owners Engineer.

He noted that the two contracting companies and KBR were the consortium that built the six existing LNG Trains for Nigerian LNG Ltd.

“Having got the first outcome, which is level four, the next outcome will be level three while the final outcome will be level two.

 “At the same time, the Engineering Procurement and Construction draft contract is being worked with Templers, UTMOL’s lawyers and their international counsel, White and Case,” he added.

“We understand how important this is to Nigerians and Nigeria’s economy, and we are committed to enlisting and partnering with only the best to actualise this project.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in terms of the quality of companies that will deliver this project.

“So, apart from these international companies of foremost global reputation that have been contracted to build the facility, our historic partnership with NNPCL today signals yet another milestone in our dedication to ensuring that this project is not only realised, but also meets the set objectives.

“Our aim is to complete the FEED towards the end of October 2023 and, hopefully, start work on the Open Book Estimate, OBE, for the EPC contract in November 2023.

“There are many intellectual property rights attached to such a project and such rights cannot be moved from one company to another. It may end up in the EPC with JGC and Technip.

“And once that is done, in line with international best practice, they need to also do the OBE negotiation with us.

“It was for this reason that we brought in KBR Consulting Limited of the UK, an international engineering company of the same status as JGC and Technip.

“This is to serve as our engineering consultant since we do not have the experience yet to measure the deliverables from the outcome of the feed,” Said Rone.

He noted that the company would help in ensuring that whatever JGC and Technip are doing  in terms of engineering, is in conformity with the project schedule and expectation.

“The importance we attach to this project, because of its immeasurable value to our country, means we have to be meticulous about the quality of those we engage on it.

“The Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, has also encouraged us to go on with the project without any anxiety and we are confident that government will demonstrate sufficient political will in this regard.

“It is worthy of note that this is the first indigenous company to embark on such a project and, by the grace of God, we will succeed.

“It is in light of this that we appreciate the group Chief Executive Officer of NNPCL, Mr Mele Kyari, and his management team, for demonstrating the uncommon zeal and patriotism by staking their own commitment to the project.

“It says a lot about what we are doing and the direction we are headed. I can assure you that in no distant time, Nigerians will start reaping the benefits of the project,” he concluded.

Also speaking, Kyari said that NNPCL was optimistic and committed to the project, describing it is “a project of utmost importance to the nation that must be supported to succeed at all cost.

“No matter the amount of reserves you have underground, if you haven’t brought it up to the surface, you have done nothing.

“This is why we are very interested in this project and we are going to do our own part to ensure its success. Be assured that NNPCL is solidly behind this project,” he said.

Kyari, who was optimistic, declared that the company had the ability and capacity to bring the project to realisation, particularly under the leadership of Rone.

According to Kyari,  the company’s investment in NNPCL is indicative of that fact. (NAN)

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