By Emma Amaize
ASABAâ€”DELTA State government has strategically positioned itself to benefit from the National Gas Master Plan with six of the 15 international investors, already pre-qualified by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) indicating interest to establish gas processing facilities in the state.
ThisÂ fact came to light at a stakeholders’ meeting organized by the state government at Asaba, the state capital on Monday to sensitize the people on the stateâ€™s strategy for the National Gas Master Plan and how Deltans could benefit collectively from the natural resource.
Nigeria has a proven gas reserve of 185 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and a potential of about 600 trillion cubic feet and the state accounts for 49 per cent of the available gas.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr.Â Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, who was represented by the General Manager (upstream), Dr. David Ige, confirmed that the final selection would be done in December, this year, and hopefully, by January 3, 2010, work would commence on the construction of a gas processing hubs in Delta, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom states.
Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, said with the practical reality on ground that oil has become a diminishing asset, the state decided to partner with NNPC to diversify its economy since it accounts for 40 per cent of the available gas in the country.
The details of the ownership structure are still being worked out, but, while the NNPC owns 60 per cent of the investment, the state government is working on 10 per cent (five per cent for the government and the other five per cent for the host communities through special purpose vehicles).
Uduaghanâ€™s words, â€œWe are going to be part of the cooking of this gas food and will also be part of the eating,Â Delta will negotiate for 10 percent with the host communities getting five percent that will be managed by special purpose vehicles established by them.â€
While emphasizing that it was the peopleâ€™s interest that informed the basis of the state governmentâ€™s quick alignment and commitment to the Nigerian Gas Master plan, Governor Uduaghan posited that â€œit is the involvement of the people in projects like this that make it impossible for those who want to disrupt public peace and social order to fail, because they would have no base to pursue their action.â€
The governor enumerated the numerous benefits that will accrue to the state from the Nigerian Gas Master plan and stressed that in striving to maximize the benefit it will derive from it, a Delta State Joint Advisory Committee on the Gas Master plan will be inaugurated.
Dr. Uduaghan who stated that the Gas Stakeholders Meeting was to sensitize the people about the Nigerian Gas Master plan and deliberate on how Delta State can position itself for maximum benefit, further assured that government was seriously considering the issue of manpower skills that will be needed by the companies.
To this end, he said the state will tap into the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun and also collaborate with the UNDP to set up skill acquisition centres as well as using the state-owned Polytechnics to train Deltans in electrical and welding skills.
Deputy Chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Patrick Osakwe who presided over the summit commended Governor Uduaghan for seeing the future of gas in the economy of the state and tapping into it ahead of other Niger-Delta states.
In a keynote address, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, acknowledged the contribution of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, which he said, has resulted in over 45 investors applying for pre-qualification in the over10 billion dollars worth of gas infrastructure opportunity.
Barkindo who was represented by his technical adviser, Dr. David Ige, said the meeting provided a platform for the stakeholders to understand the vision and the status of the plan, disclosed that six different consortia have expressed interest in building central processing facilities in Delta State as a result of the role played by the governor at the investors road show in Abuja, London and Singapore in May 2008.
He said with 185 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of proven gas reserve and a potential of about 600 TCF, Nigeria was well positioned to be among the would top four in terms of gas.
Barkindo further said that while the gas Master plan addresses the gas infrastructure challenge in gas supply in Nigeria , it envisages the development of three gas processing hubs to be located in delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.
On his part, Senator Patrick Osakwe, who chaired the stakeholders meeting called for the liberalization of the oil sector.
Senator Osakwe who is the Deputy Chairman of the Senate committee on Gas condemned the â€œover involvementâ€ of the Federal Government in the oil and gas sector and , therefore,Â sought the removal of the Petroleum Ministry from the Department of Petroleum Resources.
He urged Deltans to support the administration because the governor is a man of vision. The NNPC managing director also spoke of the governorâ€™s visionary traits, saying he was impressed with his Asaba International Airport project, peace and security agenda, micro-credit scheme, agricultural empowerment and street light projects.