Shell Nigeria, Chevron and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited are hindering full operation of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project by not allowing third parties transit gas through their pipelines, the federal government alleged yesterday.
The government therefore appealed to the partners to allow the transportation of third-party gas through its joint pipelines to increase gas supply to the NLNG and boost the supply of the product to Europe.
“Following the refusal of the joint partners Shell, Chevron, NNPC and others, to allow third parties to transport gas through their pipelines to the NLNG Trains, the company has been unable to operate at full capacity, thus causing its inability to meet both domestic and international gas obligations,” the federal government lamented.
A statement by Senior Adviser, Media and Communications to the Minister of State, Petroleum, Mr Horatius Egua, noted yesterday that the NLNG is at present only able to produce at about 70 per cent installed capacity.
The Minister, Chief Timipre Sylva, during an audience with the new Italian Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. Sefano De Leo, in Abuja, said that if the NLNG partners relax their rules and allow third party supply gas to the company, it will be able to provide gas to help ease the European Union’s energy crisis.
“The issue we have with the existing NLNG Trains is that of insufficient gas supply. The partners are running out of gas and they are refusing third party to supply gas to the Trains.
“The partners are insisting that they can only allow third party supply gas to the plant only if they agree to supply at subsidised rates. These people of course want to make money and they cannot supply at subsidised rates and that’s why the NLNG Trains cannot produce at fully capacity.
“The partners can afford to supply at subsidised rates because they are partners in the NLNG project not the third parties. This is a very critical issue I want to discus with the respective partners to see how we can resolve this problem so that we can increase the production capacity of the NLNG,” Sylva said.
The minister who stressed the long-standing relations between Nigeria and Italy also sought the cooperation of the Italian government in providing support for night helicopter rescue operations in the country, adding that at the moment helicopters cannot fly in the night in Nigeria, thus foreclosing any rescue operations at night.
Sylva added, “For us, this is a very important matter. We want to develop a 24-hour economy. We want a situation where helicopters can fly 24 hours in Nigeria”.
In his response, De Leo stressed the importance of Nigeria in Africa and noted that as the continent’s most populous country, it would be difficult for anyone to ignore the country both at the political and economic front.
“At the moment, the EU wants to diversify its energy sources, especially gas and Nigeria is very strategic to us. We have been long-standing friends and partners and one of the most important one for that matter.
“So, we need to continue to dialogue on how things can be done properly. In Africa, no country is more strategic than Nigeria because of its population, economy and political position. So we are happy to work with you,” the Ambassador noted.