By Yinka Ogundare
Tomorrow, much like today and yesterday, certain talking points will remain hot topics of discourse. Among them will certainly be “who is the oldest?”, “who is the bravest?”, “who is the strongest?” and of course “who is the best?”. Why we never tire of these comparisons may never truly make sense to some of us; despite it being explained countless times that such comparisons fuel the vehicles through which society journeys to the utopian land of perfection.
Just like you, I am a “value man”; but in recent times, what amounts to value has become confusing to us as a nation; what has, however, remained clear is that the economy needs a boost as it experienced between 2001 to 2005. This period birthed most of the corporations that are now tagged as ‘multi-billion naira’ companies. Big as they are, and by our curious nature, one really would like to know precisely which is the biggest and most profitable corporation in Nigeria today? Most of the available credible data points in the direction of energy. If you guessed the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas company (NLNG), you are spot on.
The papers and internet are swarmed with so much information on the exploits of this company that one would believe that the NLNG organizes the “Energy Olympics”, officiates, and wins all the medals. However, it is unfortunate that this beacon of excellence and value is not totally beneficial to the ordinary Nigerian. It is reported that the NLNG currently: supplies approximately 10% of the world’s LNG consumption, boasts of an amazing balance sheet, contributes billions of dollars to the national coffers, attracts the best of management professionals, powers industries in the orients, and fuels world-class facilities most Nigerians only see on cable television and the pages of international magazines; yet the Nigerian manufacturers cannot enjoy the same LNG to run their critical machines and equipment.
Yes, the NLNG has entered agreements with Gas Plus Synergy Limited, Asiko Power Limited, and Bridport Energy Limited for the supply of 1.1 million tons of LNG per annum to the domestic market; but when will this supply manifest itself? Is it an aspiration of the company or a real and tangible plan? Whatever needs to be done for a gas-rich country like Nigeria to begin to harvest the value of its abundant gas reserves must be expedited, because the current global energy mix places a premium on natural gas production and distribution. Considering its “green fuel” status visa-vie our climate change commitment, the Petroleum Ministry, NNPC, and the NLNG must fast-track the domestic use of liquefied natural gas and, most of all, its capacity to rejig the economy without the ‘subsidy’ price tag.
Availability and access to gas must go beyond rhetoric; the conversation on domestic access to LNG, as captured in the “Decade of Gas”, must be all-encompassing to meet the industrial need of the Nigerian economy first before securing a travel ticket to anywhere else.
Without a doubt, it takes a lot of bravery to invest in the gas market considering the deficit in the required infrastructure. Yet a few Nigerian companies, in their bid to showcase capacity and in alignment with the local content policy, have risen to the occasion as partners of the NLNG in this critical phase of inclusion and scaling. All that is now left for the effect of their investments to truly be felt by most Nigerians through the drop in cost of production and increase in the standard of living is the delivery of domestic LNG.