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What will it take for 2020 to truly be the year of Gas in Nigeria? | By NJ Ayuk

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“The Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, H.E. Chief Timipre Sylva has declared 2020 as the year of Gas for the Nation”, the news piece started. What amazing news! And certainly long overdue. As it seems, Nigerian officials have finally taken the cue. As I have said ever so often, more than an oil nation, Nigeria is a gas nation. It just doesn’t act like it.

Undoubtedly, natural gas has the enormous potential to diversify and grow the Nigerian economy, power its industries and homes, produce ever-so-lacking wealth, create jobs, develop associated industries in the petrochemical sector, raise people out of poverty, the list goes on.

Mr. Sylva’s demonstrated intent could perhaps become the most relevant political action anyone has taken in Nigeria in years and could change the country forever; and yet, the work ahead is so vast, we can only hope he has the strength to pull it off.

To be sure, naming 2020 the year of gas for Nigeria has a really nice ring to it, but marketing alone will not cut it. Concerted governmental action is essential if we are to see true growth in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector, and first of all, we need to see a conclusion to the long delayed Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme. Sylva stated that this was his main priority, so let’s hope it happens soon.

Once the programme is cleared, oil producers will have a more conclusive alternative to flaring. They will be able to monetize a resource that has so far been wasted, but still that will not suffice.

The flaring issue in Nigeria is tremendous. Every year, 2 million tonnes of LPG are flared, instead of being used as a source of power or feedstock. That means millions of dollars literally going up in smoke. Nigeria’s zero-flaring programme has been on-going for years, and yet, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has just released results that indicate that gas flaring has been consistently increasing over time. More specifically, “a total of 276.04 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas was flared from Nigeria’s oil fields between September 2018 and September 2019”. Further, NNPC stated that “the volume of gas flared within this period was more than what was supplied to power generation companies for electricity production which was 275.31bcf”. This is taking place in a country where 45% of the population does not have access to electricity, besides the extremely detrimental effect that has on businesses ability to compete and the extraordinary environmental damage that represents.

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Already, the federal government announced in August that it would not be able to fulfill its Zero Routine Flaring target by 2020 and is yet to provide a new deadline for this goal to be achieved.

The problem remains the same as ever. It is much, much cheaper for producers to flare up and pay the fines than do anything about it. This can not continue to be. Stronger action is needed and it falls on Mr. Sylva’s leadership to see it done.

I don’t mean by this to point the finger at oil producers. Most would probably want to monetize that resource, and would if they could. But we lack legislation, infrastructure, pricing regulations, and actors ready to receive the feedstock. They can’t just pipe the gas somewhere and hope for the best. We need to focus on deepening domestic gas penetration and promote adoption amongst the population, foster the development of gas associated industries like ammonia and urea plants, use this resource for power generation, etc. Demand doesn’t grow out of nowhere.

For this to workout, everybody needs to work together. That means the ministry and the NNPC need to partner with the international oil companies, the indigenous oil companies as well as with the country’s financial institutions to create the solutions that can make this industry flourish. That is a tall job, but an essential one.

Of course, the news that the output of liquefied natural gas (LNG) coming from the Bonny LNG-plant is going to expand by 35% once the 7th LNG train is operational is fantastic. Nigeria will strengthen its position as one of the world’s biggest LNG exporters and that will bring considerable wealth for the country, but its people continue to be in the dark.

And LNG expansion projects are something IOCs are well prepared to do, but there are other important roles in boosting the gas industry that have to be taken by others.

I speak of course of marginal field development, a topic that is of fundamental importance to me and that I have extensively covered in my most recent book Billions at Play: The Future of African Oil and Doing Deals. Both for oil and gas, Nigeria’s marginal field development programme showed incredible promise when it was first launched in 2013. It gave opportunities to local companies to explore smaller discoveries that were uninteresting for the majors, which in turn allowed them to gain experience in leading exploration and production projects on their own. Further, it opened opportunities for domestic use of natural gas for power generation. That programme is now being copied by Angola, and yet, it has stalled in Nigeria.

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Further, as I have extensively debated over the years, and most extensively in Billions at Play, we need to dramatically invest in Nigeria’s ability to negotiate and manage contracts. This applies both to the need to respect the sanctity of contracts, a fundamental part of giving international investors the confidence to trust that what they sign for will be respected, but also learning to choose who to sign contracts with. The current debacle with P&ID, an unknown little company that has managed to sue the Nigerian government for breach of contract in the English courts and is seeking USD$9.6 billion in compensation, is an incomprehensible situation that should never have taken place. We need to know who our partners are and who we should be signing contracts with, and then stick by them.

Only by combining the role of the majors, the indigenous companies, the necessary infrastructure development for gas transportation, bridging with the nation’s banks to help finance projects and by giving a clear legal framework to the sector, can we hope to succeed. I do not doubt that this is possible to accomplish in 2020 and the years to come, but coming from the experience of recent years, it does not seem probable, and no one pays the price for that more than everyday Nigerians, that continue to fail to benefit from its country’s resources.

Action is necessary as a matter of urgency.

This week it was disclosed that international oil and gas companies were holding back an estimated USD$58.4 billion in investments in oil and gas projects in Nigeria because of regulatory uncertainty. Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria was USD$1.9 billion in 2018. It’s not like we don’t need the money.

But how can we expect international oil companies to feel comfortable signing off on billions in investment if after 20-plus years of negotiations we still haven’t managed to settle on the Petroleum Industry Bill that will oversee the sector? Who can blame them for waiting to see what happens? They are waiting for us to figure out how we want to regulate the industry, and after 20 years, we still don’t seem to know. That has to change, and soon.

Nigeria has an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. It is high-time to put them to use. With the right policies we could change the face of the country completely. We could give light to our people, we could power our industries, releasing them from the handicapping dependency on diesel generators that make it all but impossible for them to be competitive, we could relinquish ourselves from our dependency on imported fuel for power and heat, we could create new opportunities for job creation and industrial development, we could take millions of people out of poverty… Further, strong domestic gas and gas-based industries could help boost intra-African trade, create new synergies with our neighbours, boost integration of power generation networks, establish new partnerships, even contribute to peace.

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What I am saying, I say as an African, and it applies to many countries across the continent. However, Nigeria is in a prime position to truly enact change and be a beacon to others by showing leadership and resolve. It is the continent’s biggest economy and has the continent’s biggest reserves of hydrocarbons, both oil and gas. NNPC already works with some of the best major IOCs and the country has Africa’s best and most developed indigenous exploration and production capabilities. Let’s give ourselves the opportunity to be better and to live better, by taking advantage of the resources we already possess.

Mr. Sylva is showing leadership and drive. So far, he has proven himself to be the leader that Nigeria needs to develop new LPG and LNG industries that will take the country to the next level of development, not only economically speaking, but socially, environmentally, humanly. So let’s hope he can pull through the great transformations that need to occur for 2020 to truly be Nigeria’s year of gas.

NJ Ayuk is the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and author of Amazon best-selling book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

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BUA set to establish ultramodern 3million metric tonnes cement plant, 50mw power plant in Adamawa

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One of West Africa’s largest Cement companies,  BUA Cement has announced that it is set to establish a three million metric tonnes cement plant and 50 megawatts power plant in Guyuk and Lamurde local governments of Adamawa state in the North Easter region of Nigeria. This was revealed when the Chairman of BUA, Abdul Samad Rabiu led the BUA Cement Management team on a courtesy call to the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the Government House, Yola.

Speaking during the visit, Abdul Samad Rabiu said preliminary findings show that the two local governments of Guyuk and Lamurde are reputed to have good quality of limestone deposits and BUA Cement is ready to begin the investment in the state. He added that the BUA will use new technologies to supply power to the proposed cement plant and communities of Guyuk and Lamurde in addition to providing three thousand direct and five thousand indirect jobs.

The Chairman stressed that the Guyuk Cement Plant will be the major investment in the North East by BUA and solicited for support of Governor Umaru Fintiri to set up the factory in Guyuk. Rabiu said the company made a decision to source its raw materials locally and it has invested billions of dollars in various sectors across Nigeria and therefore urged the state government to support BUA to actualize the Guyuk Cement project. In addition, he praised the commitment of the governor within one year in office in many sectors of development despite the economic challenges in Adamawa.

Responding, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri said his administration’s effort in exploring local contents has started yielding results and thanked BUA for showing interest in establishing the cement plant in Guyuk. He further assured the management team of BUA that government will make whatever is needed and provide the necessary support which will create enabling environment so that the BUA Cement company in Guyuk will become a reality.

He also expressed readiness of the government to protect the investment once it is established and told them that his administration will maintain the good relationship with the company for the benefit of the state.

BUA is Nigeria’s second largest Cement Producer by volume with cement plants in Sokoto and Edo States. The Company’s newest plant in Sokoto is expected to be operational in 2021. When completed, the Guyuk Cement Plant will bring BUA’s total capacity to 14million metric tonnes per annum.

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Dangote cement sustains 54,000 jobs in 4 African countries

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Aliko Dangote

President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has said that despite the challenging economic situation in 2019, Dangote Cement  was able to sustain 54,000 jobs in four African countries, where the company has its operations. The countries are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal and South Africa.

The business mogul who disclosed this to shareholders at the company’s 11th Annual General Meeting in Lagos said that more jobs would be created as the company intensifies the export of clinker to other neighboring countries from Nigeria.

“According to our 2019 socio-economic impact assessment study specifically on our operations in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, and South Africa, we sustained 54,005 jobs (direct, indirect, induced) in these four markets in the year under review,” he said.

Dangote told the shareholders that the year 2019 was a strong year given the tough business environment across most of its operating geographics, disclosing that the group recorded volumes of 23.7 million metric tons and revenues of ₦891.7 billion.

He said: “We recorded a strong EBITDA margin of 44.3 percent. As a result of this performance, the board has recommended for your approval a dividend of ₦16.00 per ordinary 50 kobo share.”

Speaking on the local Nigerian operations, he said: “Nigeria’s cement market grew slightly in 2019. We estimate that total market consumption was up between 2 per cent-3 percent on the 20.7Mt estimated in 2018.”

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Dangote explained that the modest performance was in spite of the fact that the market generally was impacted negatively by the disruptions related to the 2019 election cycles, heavy rains and the loss in land export volumes due to the border closure.

“Dangote Cement’s Nigerian operations remained at 14.1Mt in 2019, including export sales of 0.45Mt. Domestic sales in Nigeria were nearly 13.7Mt, compared to 13.4Mt in 2019. This implies a 2 percent growth mirroring the estimated GDP growth for the year. However, land exports reduced to 0.45Mt from 0.7Mt for the full year owing to the border closure in the last few months of 2019.

“The Bag of Goodies promotion, launched in July, drove strong increases in our Nigerian volumes in the third quarter”, Dangote pointed out, adding that the innovative marketing effort enabled the company to maintain its market share despite the 4.5Mt new capacity which came into the market during the year.”

He alluded to the new feat by Dangote Cement in commencing export of clinker via shipping from the Apapa and Onne ports to West and Central Africa, adding that the management was encouraged by the performance of its offshore operations.

Recall that the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, while lauding the investment drive of Dangote recently said that he was excited with the progress made at Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plant so far, said that when it becomes operational, the refinery and petrochemical plant would increase its workforce from the current 34,000 to over 70,000.

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Dangote to boost Economic Diversification with Maiden Clinker Shipment

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To reaffirm its status as the biggest cement producer in Africa, Dangote Cement has set the pace with the exportation of 27,800 metric tonnes of clinker to a neighbouring African country.

With this historic maiden voyage from its Export Terminal located in Apapa Port, Lagos weekend, Dangote has gradually made Nigeria, which until recently was one of the world’s largest bulk importers of cement, first self-sufficient in cement production, and now an exporter of cement clinker to other countries.

The exportation of clinker from the Dangote Cement Export Terminal will also place Nigeria as one of the leading clinker exporters in the world. The company is expected to increase the quantity of clinker export to other African countries within the next few weeks, it was further learnt.

It said this development would enable Dangote Cement take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and by so doing contribute to the improvement of intra-regional trade within the ECOWAS region.

The Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) has therefore commended Dangote Cement for leading the way for Nigeria to become one of the biggest cement and clinker exporter in the world.

Speaking during the departure of the ship conveying clinker from the Export Terminal at the weekend, Group Executive Director, Dangote Group, Alhaji Sada Ladan-Baki said the increased exportation of clinker and cement to other African countries would not only place Dangote Cement among top clinker exporters in the world, but would also boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and reduce unemployment in the country.

“The beauty of what we have done is that we are going to be generating foreign exchange for the country in terms of dollars and Euros. For every batch of clinker we export, the money comes back to Nigeria. The amount we are talking about is not small. Presently, Dangote Cement should either be number one or number two exporter of cement in Africa and the revenue we have generated in the form of foreign exchange is running into millions. Today, we have formally launched the Dangote Cement Export Terminal. We are still going to do another major launch when the second ship is going out of the country,” he added.

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Alhaji Sada recalled that only a few years ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest bulk importers of cement, saying that “Dangote has gradually made Nigeria self-sufficient in cement production as well as an exporter of clinker to other countries.

He disclosed that the company would also be launching its export terminal in Onne in the next few days, adding that the export terminal would enable the company export clinker, initially to its grinding facility in Cameroon and then to new grinding plants the company is building across West Africa.

He explained that not only would this generate useful foreign currency for Dangote Cement to support other expansion projects outside Nigeria, it would also help to increase the output of the Nigerian plants, saying these would help to improve job creation and increase prosperity in Nigeria.

He stated: “This terminal will assist Dangote to actualise the full potential of the company’s investment in cement. You know as usual, when the rain comes, sales decline, but not clinker export. This feat by Dangote is going to generate a lot of jobs because the Export Terminal has already created jobs to many Nigerians. As at now, the numbers of employed Nigerians at the terminal have reached 100. We are targeting about 200 to 300 workers in Lagos Terminal alone.

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“But, apart from job creation opportunities, the exportation of clinker by Dangote will position the country to participate fully in the Africa Free Trade Liberalisation Agreement when it comes into being, so that Nigeria will be protected against foreign products. It will also help the country compete effectively with every country that are in the business of exportation of clinker. At Dangote Cement, we are going about it aggressively and we are seeing it as an opportunity.”

Alhaji Sada said the company has also concluded plans to increase its clinker and cement export to other countries. “This vessel, being the maiden ship is exporting 27,800 metric tonnes to Senegal and this is just a tip of the ice-berg as to what we have in plan. What we have in plan is to send clinker from Nigeria to Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana. Cameroon as an example, takes about 82,000 metric tonnes every month. Our target is to export at least 4 million metric tonnes of clinker annually to various parts of Africa.

“That is our target that we hope to achieve within the next one to two years. This particular voyage is going to our sister company in Senegal. We have an integrated plant of 1.5 million tonnes and this one is expected to give the plant additional clinker that is required for the plant to sustain production. In the next one week or two, we are going to be shipping 82,000 metric tonnes to Cameroon in batches of about 25,000 to 29,000 metric tonnes per voyage,” he added.

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Speaking on Dangote’s achievement, the Acting Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Chuma Oruche praised the wealthiest man in Africa for leading the way in the export of product from Nigeria to other countries.

According to him, this feat by Dangote Cement is capable of boosting Nigeria’s foreign earning and reduce unemployment in the country.

He said: “The export of clinker by Dangote Cement at the weekend will definitely be beneficial to Nigerian economy in terms of export earnings, job creation and wealth creation for families connected with these achievements.”

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