By Yemie Adeoye
FOLLOWING the decision by Brass Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, Company Limited to award contract for the construction of its LNG trains in Bayelsa State to Bechtel LNG Contractors Limited, a foreign engineering company based in the United States, Nigeria may be losing well over one million man-hours of basic engineering jobs to foreigners if the contract sails through.
This amounts to a loss of about $11.2 billion, as the foreign company, Bechtel, had insisted on allowing only 30 per cent of a part of the project value to be handled in-country, thereby negating the basic principles of the Nigerian Content Act.
A source, who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said that Bechtel agreed it can only allow 300,000 man-hours or 30 per cent out of one million man-hours, even as it was clear that the scope of the project would surpass the said one million man-hours of work.
Vanguard gathered that the delegate from Bechtel, who visited Nigeria recently, confirmed to the government that the project was well over one million man-hours but would only discuss the one million man-hours, as they were under strict obligation to their partners, Connoco-Phillips in that regard.
Part of their plan, Vanguard learnt includes the overseas training of about 30 local engineers while 20 expatriates would return with them presumably to oversee their work, especially as the technology they were bringing for the project had never been used in the country.
The proposed project has come under intense criticism by industry watchers and stakeholders, who query why 20 expatriates would supervise 30 engineers. “At most, it should be five engineers to one expatriate even if they are neophytes in the engineering profession,” said an engineer in one of the oil servicing companies in Lagos.
He said what the company will do in-country was far below the Nigerian Content stipulations, which provides that 50 per cent man-hours must be domiciled in-country for FEED and detailed engineering of LNG facilities.
He added: “They said they would be purchasing manufacturing equipment in the country, when they know that the technology has never been used in this country before now. So where do they expect to buy the manufacturing equipment in Nigeria?
“Would any right thinking businessman start the sale of something which is not in use in these parts?”