By Egufe Yafugborhi
PRESIDENT Mohammadu Buhari on Tuesday flagged off a much-anticipated project to construct Train 7 of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in Bonny, Rivers State with a call for timely completion amidst uneasy calm trailing last week Thursday’s protest by the host Finima community.
Buhari during the virtual groundbreaking at the NLNG ground had sought stakeholders cooperation to ensure completion of the Train 7 project “safely and on time” to pave for a Train 8 expansion, but leaders in Finima insist they won’t lend support to the project till NLNG accords the community desired host status.
Recall that last Thursday, Finima picketing of NLNG in peaceful protest was dislodged by suspected violent Bonny youths, resulting in injuries and burning of property against the Finima people.
Buhari, in his charge to stakeholders Tuesday said, ”As we flag off the Train 7 today, I look forward to development and execution of more gas projects by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and indigenous operators, and more Trains from Nigeria LNG to harness over 600trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves we are endowed with.
”I commend the shareholders of NLNG, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum, NNPC and the NCDMB and other stakeholders for very exemplary collaboration which has culminated in this great opportunity for Train 7.
”I thank the foreign investors for the confidence reposed in Nigeria, and assure all Nigerians and potential investors in the Oil and Gas sector that Federal Government will continue to create enabling environment to develop the sector and bring the full benefits of Gas closer to our people.”
He recalled, “As Minister of Petroleum Resources, I kicked off our first foray in LNG Business in 1978. At the time it was already apparent that Nigeria was mainly a gas rich country with a little oil.
”It therefore gives me great joy to see the organization transform from just a project in the early 90s to a very successful company with over 20 years of responsible operations and steady supply of Liquefied Natural Gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Natural Gas Liquids into the global market.
“This is proof that Nigeria has great capacity to deliver value to the world by harnessing our natural resources.
“Through the Decade of Gas initiative, which I recently launched, we will transform Nigeria into a major gas and industrialised nation with gas playing the key role as revenue earner, fuel for industries and necessary feed for petrochemicals and fertiliser plants.”
He noted with delight, ”NLNG has generated $114 billion in revenues over the years, paid $9 billion in taxes; $18 billion in dividends to the Federal Government and $15 billion in feed gas purchase. These are commendable accomplishments by the company’s 100 percent Nigerian Management Team.
“With this level of performance, I can only hope that the company continues to grow starting with this Train 7 project but also positioning Nigeria to thrive through the energy transition.”
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, said, ”I boldly say the ground breaking of Train 7 is a guarantee to every stakeholder of more dividends in terms of further reduction in gas flaring, more revenue to the nation and shareholders, more job opportunities especially at the construction phase and more social investments for the society.”
Anthony Attah, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NLNG, said Train 7 will increase NLNG’s overall capacity to 30 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) from the current 22 million mtpa, adding immense value to the nation and the people.
Attah noted that the project would stimulate inflow of about 10 billion dollars FDI into Nigeria, create 12,000 direct jobs in Bonny Island and additional 40,000 indirect construction jobs.
‘‘Nigeria has ridden on the back of oil for over 50 years, but with this Train 7 project Nigeria is now set and I believe it is now time to fly on the wings of gas,’’ he said.
We Insist On Recognition As Lead Host – Finima Leaders
Meanwhile, leaders of Finima community have vowed to fight on for recognition as lead host community and not to be treated as appendage of the larger Bonny Island.
Dagogo Lambert Brown, Spokesman for Finima and ex-Mobil staff, told newsmen following the fracas that led to nine injuries and property destruction that the alleged attempt by men from Bonny to intimidate them with violence would rather make Finima more determined.
“We are not fighting kingship issues or kingdom matters. We are not fighting Bonny people. We do not understand why they would come and attack their brothers who were conveying their justified grievances to the NLNG”, Brown stated
Finima elders call on Federal Government, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the NLNG to intervene before things get out of hand, vowing they would not surrender their right to their ancestral home acquired to mount the gas trains and other sensitive facilities on the island if they won’t enjoy host benefits.