Managing Director of the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), Mr. Saidu Mohammed, has allayed apprehension in some quarters that the recent commencement of oil production in Ghana could jeopardize the West African Gas Pipeline Project of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
According to Mohammed, contrary to such fears, the production of oil and gas in the West African country would actually complement gas production in Nigeria rather that constitute a threat to NNPC gas initiative.
He also disclosed that the well-known huge indebtedness to the NGC by its major client, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), “has been substantially offset”.
The NGC is a subsidiary of the NNPC saddled with the supply and distribution of gas in Nigeria, with the PHCN being responsible for purchasing no less than 70 per cent of its gas local supply; but PHCN’s debt profile had run into billions of naira.
The NGC boss made the remarks while fielding questions from newsmen in his office in Warri, when the Warri Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) paid him a courtesy visit. The NUJ delegation was led by its chairman, Comrade Mike Ikeogwu.
On the famous regional gas pipeline project, Mohammed said gas might actually come into Nigeria from Ghana, adding that such supply would complement rather threaten the Nigerian gas supply system.
“Yes, gas may come in from Ghana”, the NGC managing director said, noting, “but it wouldn’t be a threat to the WAGP project. Indeed, I believe it will open another window of opportunities for Nigerians.
I think Nigerians will even be involved in the oil and gas business in Ghana.
He further said the local gas pipeline system would subsume more of the northern parts of the country under the country’s gas master plan.
“The Nigerian gas master plan will ensure the extension of gas pipeline beyond Ajaokuta (in Kwara State)”; while on the other hand Ajaokuta couild link the eastern parts as far as Akwa Ibom State.
Mohammed, who disclosed that plans at the expansion of the northern gas pipeline beyond Ajaokuta have reached advanced stages, pointed out, “The pipelines are not being viewed as Ajaokuta-Kaduana-Kano lines; but rather as backbone of the (proposed) trans-Saharan gas pipeline project.”
On the ongoing divestment by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Nigeria, he assured that the “NNPC is deliberately making sure the divestment does not affect the gas system in the country”, saying the gas project in places like Sapele were conceived in this respect.
The NGC boss, who expressed happiness at the cordial relationship existing between the company and its “host” communities, revealed that the introduction of what he called “a bankable agreement” under a “ a newly approved prize for gas” has created a “more businesslike operations” in the country’s gas system.
The system, which has created enhanced business environment among the stakeholders (suppliers, buyers and transporters), has led to encouraging improvement in the debt recovery process, Mohammed said.