01 September 2013, Lagos – Corporate Banking Director, Diamond Bank Plc, Mr. Samuel Egube, has said that the bank has put together about $1bn (N150bn) for the funding of oil and gas projects in Nigeria.
Egube, in an interview on the sideline of the unveiling of three Dive Support Vessels acquired by CNS Marine Nigeria Limited in Lagos, said the bank was already the ‘lead supporter for marine logistics as a bank’ in the country and would continue to finance indigenous oil and gas companies with viable projects.
He, thus, expressed the bank’s determination to continue to support indigenous oil and gas firms as well as marine logistics companies by funding projects considered viable.
He said, “We have always supported indigenous oil and gas companies. We blazed the trail in this area. We have, for two consecutive years, won the award from a United Kingdom-based organisation as a leader in asset based funding in the oil and gas industry. And we have committed at least $1bn to this.”
Egube, who said Diamond Bank was the sole financier of one of the newly acquired vessels worth over $30m, explained that the bank undertook to finance the project because it believed in the Nigerian Content initiative, aimed at deepening indigenous participation in the nation’s oil and gas industry.
He said, “We have supported the Nigerian Content for as long as it has been and because of the inklings of the Federal Government to support the Nigerian content; you are beginning to see more interests in capacity development in specialised areas such as subsea engineering, marine logistics and others.
“It is our delight to support the promoters of the company when they decided to buy the vessel. It’s not in abundant supply in the country and it requires specialist skills. There are very few Nigerian companies that are involved in underwater diving capabilities. Once we saw that these people were serious players, with integrity and the skills, Diamond Bank undertook to support it.”
Egube observed that supporting CNS Marine Nigeria Limited was not just a major milestone for the company but for the Nigerian content imitative.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Mr. Ernest Nwapa, had recently said the Nigerian economy lost over $100bn in five decades to foreign owned vessels that have been lifting crude oil from the country.
He lamented that this was because many indigenous companies refused to invest in the marine sector.
He, however, expressed happiness that the trend began to change with the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Other areas where the Local Content Act is already spurring increased Nigerian participation, according to Nwapa, are boat building and ship repair, coastal trade under the Cabotage regime, insurance, banking and legal services and crude oil and product sales.
An indigenous company, Ocean Marine Tankers, has also recently acquired two brand new tanker vessels-MT Abiola and MT Igbinosa- for crude oil lifting in the country. Each of them has the capacity for 45,000 metric tonnes.
More Nigerian companies are investing in vessels for different oil and gas related activities, ranging from offshore support, to crude oil lifting, Dive support, and subsea engineering purposes.
– Dayo Oketola, The Punch