16 May 2012, Sweetcrude, PORT HARCOURT – Former head of Nigeria’s Interim National Government (ING), Chief Ernest Shonekan, has urged a fast-track of the Train 7 project of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in Bonny Island Island, Rivers State.
This, he said, will ensure the country maintains its share of the global gas business.
According to him, Nigeria previously held 10 per cent share of the global gas market share, which had dropped to about seven per cent because of the emergence of new supplies.
Speaking during his visit to the LNG Plant in Finima, Bonny Island on Tuesday, Shonekan urged President Goodluck Jonathan to approve the construction of the NLNG train 7 project as a matter of urgency to help Nigeria maintain a considerable foothold in the market.
He said Nigeria had earned over $9 billion as dividend from the gas plant and urged the Federal Government to shore up the nation’s revenue base by approving the project.
He further said: “Indeed, what has surprised keen observers of the industry has been the exponential rate at which this company has grown. The success which greeted the Nigeria LNG Limited’s project had accelerated the execution of plans, now at an advanced stage, for the building of the 7th train.
“From Nigeria LNG Limited, the government which still has oil as its major foreign exchange earner, has reaped over $9 billion as dividends.”
Expressing displeasure that Nigeria still flared gas, Shonekan said the approval of Train Seven of the LNG would reduce the amount of gas flared and increase the nation’s revenue.
“Nigeria is still a poor country; our government and compatriots will be very grateful if you bring in more money. A revenue of over $9 billion is heart warming, but our poverty is such that we thirst for even more revenue to solve our developmental problems especially to replace our decaying infrastructure and to make investments that will create more jobs,” he said.
He added: “That Nigeria is still flaring gas is an unacceptable fact in today’s world, not only from a health and environmental perspective, but also for the basic fact that the perpetrators are burning cash. Again, as a former captain of industry and a statesman, I find it detestable that our country not only still leaves value on the table and walks away, year-after-year, but also continues to literally pour money into flames by flaring gas.
“These are some reasons that you must get on with Train Seven immediately. In my earlier conversation with your managing director, he volunteered that Nigeria’s LNG has a very strong balance sheet and therefore does not need money from the Federal Government purse to expand. It only needs government approval and support of its shareholders to build train seven.
“I am not entirely sure about what is delaying train seven. I gather that sales and purchase agreements for it were signed five years ago with buyers.
“Whatever might be delaying train seven, I call on the government to step in and ensure that the construction of that train takes off immediately. The time for it is now.”
According to him, “Nigeria LNG Limited was once the fastest growing facility in the world. Now it has lost its place in front of the queue to Qatar and Australia”.