Uche Usim, Abuja
“Obviously, in today’s reality, the Nigeria LNG is lagging behind, both as a company and as a country,” said Mr Tony Attah, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and the Vice President, Bonny Gas Transport, while bemoaning the slow pace of NLNG development .
According to him, “Nigeria was just 24 months behind Qatar when the Nigeria LNG started in 1999. But today, Qatar is on 77 million metric tonnes per annum production capacity, while Nigeria LNG is on 22 million metric tonnes per annum. That for us is a major reason for Nigeria LNG to wake to the reality that Train 7 is no longer ambitious; not for Nigeria LNG; not for Nigeria.”
In this interview, he beleived that the Final Investment Decision (FID) signed by NLNG with its partners on the Train 7 project will be a game changer.
Hear him:”The FID we have taken will expand the Nigeria LNG production capacity by 35 per cent and boost Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global LNG market.”
With over 25 years cognate experience in the oil and gas sector, Attah beleives he can deepen LNG utilisation in Nigeria due to its numerous advantages.
NLNG is an incorporated Joint-Venture owned by four shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49 per cent), Shell Gas B.V. (25.6 per cent), Total Gaz Electricite Holdings France (15 per cent), and Eni International N.A. N.V. S.àr.l (10.4 per cent).
It is rated the fourth company in Nigeria and contributed over 12 per cent of government revenue in taxes and dividend in 2014 and 2015.
With revenue exceeding $90billion since 1999, the company ranks with FTSE 100 companies globally and is being managed to world class standards.
Prior to his current role, Attah was the Managing Director and Board Chairman of Shell Nigeria E & P Company SNEPCo, Vice President HSE and Corporate Affairs, Vice President Human Resources (HR) as well as other technical & non-technical roles in operations and major projects including being the Head of Joint Venture Economics in the commercial function.
He holds a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Ibadan and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Benin.
In the career, which took him across Europe, Russia and Africa, Tony has led multi-disciplinary teams across diverse cultures and has been renowned for his strong strategic and commercial mindset which is underpinned by a solid technical background and excellent leadership capabilities.
He said his goal in NLNG is to sustain the historical excellent performance, move the company to the next level and continue to make NLNG an inspiration to Nigeria and a company committed to helping build a better Nigeria.
At the end of 2019, NLNG signed a Final Investment Decision (FID) with its partners on its Train 7 project (production line).
This decision allows the expansion to increase the capacity of NLNG’s six-train plant from the extant 22 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) to 30 MTPA, with the award of contracts for the engineering, procurement and construction activities to follow the closure of bank and Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing, and the finalization of some key supporting commercial agreements expected in early 2020.
In this interview, he speaks more about the project and NLNG.
The actualisation of the Train 7 Project comes as NLNG celebrates 30 years of its incorporation and 20 years of safe and reliable operations since exporting its first LNG cargo in 1999.
Train 7 is the crux of a growth agenda which will ensure the company’s position as the 5th major supplier of global LNG is maintained, increasing value to its shareholders and other stakeholders, as well as further reducing the gas that would otherwise have been flared, in fulfilment of its vision of being a global company, helping to build a better Nigeria.
Over 12, 000 jobs will be created during the peak of construction, trade and commercial activities within the Niger Delta region equally receiving a boost as a result. The project will also support the development of local engineering and fabrication capacity in the country. Other opportunities for local content include procurement, logistics, equipment leasing, insurance, hotels, office supplies, aviation, haulage, and many more.
The project upon completion will support the Federal Government’s drive to diversify its revenue portfolio and generate more revenue from Nigeria’s proven gas reserves of about 200 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).
The construction period after FID will last approximately five years with first LNG rundown expected in 2024.
First, let me thank the shareholders and the Board of Directors of our company, who, with the support of our partners, led by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, we are able to take the bold decision to go forward with the construction of Train 7 of the Nigeria LNG project.
We have been pushing for long to get to the decision over the last 14 or so years. It is important to restate that between 2000 and 2006, Nigeria LNG was the fastest growing LNG company in the world.
Every 18 months, the management of the company was adding a new production train to its capacity, to the point where the sixth train was added to the Base project.
From the sixth train, we have struggled for several years to move on to the seventh train. But, it must be on record that when the management and partners visited the President (Muhammadu Buhari) to inform him about the resolve to proceed with this project, and to seek his support for Train 7, he expressed shock that we were yet to surpass Train 7.
Being part of the project in the 1980s, the President said he had expected the company to be on the construction of Train 12 by now.
That really inspired our management and partners to go for this, because we see history about to repeat itself.
When the Nigeria LNG was set up, the ambition was to build two trains only. But, we went from two trains to six production trains.
That is partly why we are very encouraged today with the milestone we have achieved. We believe that the final investment decision (FID) on Train 7 today is a gate opener for the subsequent trains that are to follow.
With the support of our Chairman, Chief O.R LongJohn, and our directors, we believe that Train 7 of the NLNG project will surely be a gate opener for what will be Trains 8, 9, 10, 11 and ultimately at 12, which the President wants us to be. We are very happy to get to this juncture today.
Train 12 target
Like I said, there were many hurdles, which Train 7 final investment decision has unblocked. That’s what I meant by history about to repeat itself.The original ambition for Nigeria LNG as a company was just to construct Trains 1 and 2. But, on the back of Trains 1 and 2 FID, which took 30 years, we learned a lot.
Once the decisions were taken, we proceeded to build Trains 4, 5 and 6. So, I believe that history is repeating itself today.
That is why every Nigerian should celebrate being part of the history that Train 7 has been, as the gate opener. I have no doubt that with the experience, we will get to Trains 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 quicker than we have done.
Train 7 project is beyond domestic gas supply for the Nigeria LNG. It is really a global response to what the market has been doing.
Obviously, in today’s reality, the Nigeria LNG is lagging behind, both as a company and as a country. We have done the basic analysis, to compare resources with capacity, and we found out that opportunities for Nigeria have not even started, quite frankly.
Nigeria was just 24 months behind Qatar when the Nigeria LNG started in 1999. But today, Qatar is on 77 million metric tonnes per annum production capacity, while Nigeria LNG is on 22 million metric tonnes per annum.
So, Train 7 will add another eight million metric tonnes to take the company to 30 million metric tonnes per annum.
Then, just when we thought we were very ambitious to go to 30 million metric tonnes, Qatar again wants to add another 30 million metric tonnes to its capacity.
That for us is a major reason for Nigeria LNG to wake to the reality that Train 7 is no longer ambitious; not for Nigeria LNG; not for Nigeria.
The FID we have taken will expand the Nigeria LNG production capacity by 35 per cent and boost Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global LNG market.
But, on the back of this project, partners expect to see at least 12,000 direct employment opportunities created, and more importantly additional indirect employment of about 40,000.
Lots of fabrication yards that have been idle will kick back to life. That is one of the biggest opportunities that this project brings, first and foremost, before creating additional value for the country.
Today, the Nigeria LNG has paid more than $7 billion in taxes since it became a taxpayer. We have issued more than $15 billion in dividend to the government through the shareholding by the NNPC’s equity of 49 per cent and all the other shareholders, including Shell, Total and ENI on annual basis.
So, with this project, dividend payouts will grow, taxes for Nigeria will grow, employment will grow, but most importantly, it will put Nigeria back on the global map of energy resource country.
Nigeria LNG Limited aims to harness Nigeria’s natural gas resources and produce Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) for export.