Fed Govt: No plans to sell NLNG

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The Federal Government has no plans to sell the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), it was learnt yesterday.
Speaking in Abuja during an investigative hearing on three motions by the Fred Agbedi- led House Committee on Gas Resources and Allied Matters, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu said there was no plan to sell the NLNG.
“We are not aware of any plans to sell LNLG by the federal government,“ Kachikwu said at the forum which was addressing the “Need to stop the Sale of the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas Limited”among other issues.
Represented by the Director, Gas Resources, Mrs. Esther Ifejika, the minister denied any plan to sell the foreign exchange spinning firm.
However, Ifejika who said the presentation of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were harmonised, could not proceed further at the hearing because glaring discrepancies were discovered in the documents of the Ministry and that of NNPC as presented by Chief Operating Officer, Upstream, Bello Rabiu who represented the Group Managing Director, Baru Maikanti.
The committee also said the two documents were not authenticated because they were not signed.
Rabiu said the documents may be different but the figures are the same, adding however that the documents could be taken back for authentication.
The lawmakers queried the NNPC and the Ministry over staggering increases in the upgraded contract of OML 58 and the execution of the Northern Option Pipeline.
It was gathered that the NNPC entered into a JV with Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (TEPNG). There was a Modified Carry Agreement and award to TEPNG to execute the OML 58 Upgrade 1 in 2008, Obite- Ubeta- Rumuji (OUR) pipeline in 2010, and the Northern Option Pipeline in 2011.
In his defence of the NNPC, Rabiu told the lawmakers that no money had been paid on the variations.
Total E&P which handled the JV contract said the initial contract sum was $3.45 billion but was eventually increased to $4.6 billion after the consideration of a number of factors.
But members of the Committee were not happy over the huge variation in the contracts totaling over $1.15 billion.
The Executive Director, Asset Management and New Energies, who represented the Managing Director of Total, Patrick Olinma, said it had made submissions on all the issues raised and that the documents had been submitted to the committee
However, the committee members insisted that the reason for the variations was because the contractor engaged by Total was incompetent resulting in the extra cost. According to the lawmakers, the allegation was made by the NNPC and yet Total went on to engage the contractors.
But the representative of Total said the firm had a duty to comply with the extant Local Content Act, adding that the firm was initially told by the government that there were 14 communities but discovered that there were 74 communities.
The Committee chairman said though the parliament made the law, it did not say the contractor should be employed “as a learning curve.” He insisited that the cost was too staggering.
The committee said it would like to see the board’s resolution on the contracts before it was awarded to ensure they comply with procurement laws.
Sunday Katung (PDP Kaduna) who moved the motion to investigate the contract said the JV contracts, is at variance with the projected budget sums.