Amending NLNG Act will stall building of new trains — MD

THE Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), Tony Attah, has warned that amending the NLNG Fiscal Incentives Guarantees and Assurances Act (NLNG Act) will stall building of new two Trains, 7 and 8.

Attah stated that Nigeria has the makings of a top quartile gas producing country, with potential to develop into a global gas powerhouse and increase its LNG market share. He added that the right business environment needed to exist for that transformation to come about.

“The NLNG Act allowed investments to flow into the country. It provided investors the confidence that any agreement entered into would be respected and preserved. To amend the Act will not help Nigeria in developing its vast gas resources, NLNG and its hopes for expansion and it will erode investors’ confidence that the Act provided in the first place,” he said.

Attah remarked that identified opportunities like the expansion of NLNG’s Bonny Island Plant with Trains 7 and 8 could be a catalyst to unleashing the country’s gas potentials. He said it was time for Nigeria to use gas to spur industrial and economic transformation.

He however, warned that some challenges may slow down progress towards achieving the country’s dreams, citing the proposed amendment of the NLNG Act by the House of Representatives as a potential show-stopper.

“If the amendment is passed, the NLNG expansion project will be jeopardised and Nigeria will lose investments of $ 1-3 billion annually in the upstream to enable NLNG maintain current production capacity and gas developments. It means an immediate loss of foreign investment totaling $25 billion in respect of Train 7 and 8 investments. Another impact will be the potential loss of about 18,000 jobs required for the construction activities of the Trains.

“An amendment or change in the NLNG Act portrays Nigeria as a promise-breaker and untrustworthy, damaging the country’s reputation and hamstringing its ability to attract foreign investment,” he said.

Citing the Qatari example, Attah said “Qatar started to ship LNG in 1997, two years before Nigeria. But you have to be awed by what the country has achieved since then. Today, oil and gas, and principally LNG is the foundation of Qatar’s economy; and account for more than 70 per cent of total government revenue, and more than 60% of GDP, as well as roughly 85 per cent of export earnings. Qatar has LNG capacity of about 77MTPA, and generates revenues of about $91billion per year. Gas was the catalyst for transformation of a small emirate to a global economic powerhouse. This will give you a feeling of what can happen when you focus on gas.”

Reporting on NLNG’s scorecard since the inception of production, he said: “NLNG is a success story that we need to sustain. It is the fourth largest LNG plant in the world. It has generated $90 billion in revenues as well as paid $5.5 billion in taxes. The company has generated $13 billion for the Federal Government through feedgas purchases and $15 billion in dividends. While monetising the country’s gas resources, the company contributed to reducing gas flaring from 65 per cent to less than 20 per cent.

“In addition, NLNG has contributed significantly to the domestic LPG industry, supplying some 40 per cent of cooking gas to Nigerian homes and businesses. This intervention continues as part of strategies and initiatives aimed at deepening the availability and usage of cooking gas in the country.

“In the Niger Delta, NLNG committed more than $200 million to corporate social responsibility projects in the Niger Delta especially in the areas of capacity building and infrastructure development. We are also ready to commit some N60 billion to see the Bonny-Bodo road come into reality and commit N3 billion annually for the next 25 years to transform Bonny into a Dubai of sorts.

“All these are achieved with a management staff entirely made up of Nigerians and a workforce which is 95 per cent indigenous. But all of these achievements are in jeopardy with the proposed amendment by the House,” he said.

However, when asked about the specific portion of the NLNG Act that the House of Representatives members intended to amend, he explained that they wanted to inject a portion that will mandate NLNG to pay 3 per cent Niger Delta Development Company (NDDC).

“The NDDC tax is only applicable to upstream companies, we are not upstream company. We buy gas from upstream companies, we cool the gas to negative 160 degree and ship to our customers.

“Our shareholders are already paying this tax from their operations in upstream, it would amount to multiple taxation and betrayal of trust,” he stated.

NLNG is owned by four shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC (49%),  Shell Gas BV, SGBV, (25.6%), Total LNG Nigeria Limited (15%), and Eni International (N.A,) N. V. S. a. r. l (10.4%).