The debate on removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also known as cooking gas, is one of the key issues that took the center stage at the Conference of Nigeria Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA). Adeola Yusuf, in this report, takes a look at the issues and their effects on the economy
Government, like the phenomenal Oliver Twist, is yet to be satisfied with the relative feats it has recorded in the gas sector.
The market share of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) also known as cooking gas hit 635,452.061MT by end of December 2018 but the government felt that this share could further be enlarged to be 1, 000, 000 MT before the end of the year.
The highest body of stakeholders in the cooking gas industry, Nigeria Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA), while putting this in perspectives, declared that the recent removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on locally produced LPG would encourage fall in price and increase in demand.
President of NLPGA, Mr. Nuhu Yakubu, at the 9th Conference and Exhibition of the association, expressed optimism that the target by government for domestic LPG market share to reach a milestone of 1,000,000 MT before end of December 2019 could be achieved if all stakeholders keep doing the right thing.
Going back and forth
The Federal Government had earlier confirmed the removal of VAT on LPG.
This means that the cost is supposed to be relatively stable, thus attracting many investors and users in the country.
The Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, who disclosed this at the stakeholders’ meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in Abuja, recently said the measure was targeted at growing the LPG sector.
The Federal Government had earlier in the year promised to remove VAT on cooking gas to encourage utilisation of the product in many households.
Effects of removal
Though the removal of VAT on LPG will definitely deny overnment the revenue it has been making from this avenue, the stakeholders at the NLPGA conference and exhibition maintained that the removal would boost the gains in the sector.
Vice Presiddent Osinbajo had explained that specifically, for household cooking, the present administration was targeting a 40 per cent adoption rate (i.e. 13.8m households) in five years, and 73 per cent adoption in 10 years (33.3m households).
“We believe that the sub-sector can create up to 2 million new direct and indirect jobs in Nigeria. Our determination to prioritise the LPG sector development culminated in the Federal Executive Council’s approval of the National Gas Policy in 2017, with dedicated input for the enhancement of the LPG sub-sector.
“Our driving vision has been to transform the sub-sector from a commodity sector based on export to a value creation sector based on domestic utilisation and industrialisation,” he said.
These targets of 40 per cent and 73 per cent adoptions by households in Nigeria, Yakubu said while addressing delegates at the conference, would be achieved with execution of right policies by the government and support from all the stakeholders.
Like the NLPGA boss, the Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Retails Limited, Dr. Billy Okoye, also maintained that lack of clear cut government policy on autogas utilisation by Nigerian motorists had slowed growth in demand.
Surge in market share
Quoting data from Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), Okoye said in a presentation at the NLPGA conference that a surge in LPG market share from 635,452.061MT by end of December 2018 to 1,000,000 MT would be achieved before end of December 2019.
The Nigerian LPG demand, he said in the presentation entitled; “Supply, Demand and Pricing Outlook: The impact of international LPG market in Nigeria,” would grow incrementally on the back of Federal Government’s LPG Expansion and Penetration Programme.
He said; “The lack of clear cut FGN policy on autogas utilisation by Nigerian motorists has slowed growth in autogas demand and a removal of VAT on locally produced LPG by the FG will also encourage increase in demand as prices fall.
“Historically, international demand for LPG declines in the summer months due to reduction in heating requirements. Conversely, local demand rises during those months due to falling prices locally & internationally.”
The establishment of a cylinder manufacturing plant by Techno Oil in Lagos, he continued, would also increase cylinder circulation countrywide leading to rise in product demand.
“High prices and steady demand in international market has led to export of a significant volume of locally produced LPG. Price parity between international market prices and local prices has been achieved via volumes supplied by NLNG into the domestic market. This is because the NLNG LPG price is based on the Monte Belvieu price of the product plus a quoted price factor (QPF).”
Other stakeholders added that the gaps in in-country LPG infrastructure had led to storage and distribution challenges, hence making the international market more attractive.
They, however, expressed optimism about increase in the market share of the LPG in the country.
This optimism, Okoye said, was buoyed by a number of efforts being put in place by the Federal Government and the NLPGA.
These include inland storage capacity of about 42,500MT, which is available in LPG depots across Nigeria’s undulating and vast coastline.
“There are over 555 operational gas plants with 95 per cent owned by independent marketers. In-country production is about 5,000,000 MTPA with over 90 per cent of that volume exported while 10 per cent is consumed locally.
“The Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme presents an opportunity for growth in LPG supply in Nigeria. It is estimated that 600,000 MT of LPG per year can be produced from the 178 flare sites the programme intends to commercialise.
“The Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Oredo facility should also increase supply, adding around 120,000 MTPA to in-country LPG production when it comes on stream,” he said.
On the relationship between the international market forces and the Nigeria LPG market demand, the NNPC Retails Limited boss said: “In global context, demand for LPG is expected to rise in line with supply as both energy and non-energy end-users capitalise.
“The incremental consumption will be driven by the petrochemical and residential sector while residential demand of LPG for cooking is expected to grow in developing world markets.
“Other sectors are likely to remain flat. Asia will be the key source of incremental demand, and the demand for LPG in both the residential cooking and petrochemical sector in Asia will see demand soar.
“OECD and Latin American markets are saturated or declining. Some incremental demand in Europe and North America for LPG is a feedstock. Demand in Africa will grow, but from a low base. Petrochemicals demand for LPG is driven by Asia, with other regions contributing.
“A combination of propane-dehydrogenation and steam-cracking will lead to significant incremental demand from this sector. Global demand for Autogas has likely peaked. Average growth of total Autogas demand since the beginning of the decade is three per cent.”
The rise in demand
The LPG business, checks showed, will likely be boosted in Nigeria, as the Nigerian LNG Limited, a major local producer has indicated interest in increasing supply, while demand for LPG is on the rise.
In a message obtained from its website, the company stated: “NLNG commenced the supply of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), otherwise known as cooking gas, to the domestic market in 2007 when refineries became challenged and supply was grossly inadequate. Since then, the issue of inadequate supply has become a thing of the past.
“The intervention, which is in line with company’s vision of helping to build a better Nigeria, has significantly contributed to the stimulation and development of the domestic LPG market in Nigeria and has effectively brought down the price of cooking gas from over N7, 000 in 2007 to less than N3, 500 per 12.5kg cylinder today.
“NLNG is committed to delivering 350,000 tonnes of LPG into the Nigerian market annually and has signed Sales and Purchase Agreements (SPAs) with fifteen off-takers (all Nigerian companies) for the lifting of LPG for the domestic market.”
The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), an auxiliary of NLPGA, said that the removal of VAT on cooking gas by the Federal Government would deepen market penetration, boost the country’s economy and protect the environment.
President, NALPGAM, Mr. Nosa Ogieva-Okunbor, stated this, noting that the removal of VAT on cooking gas supply to marketers by Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) would attract more investors and reduce importation into the country.
“This removal of VAT on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), popularly known as cooking gas, has crashed the price of cooking gas by about 30 per cent in the market.
“Currently, a 12.5kg bottle of gas which was N4,300 now sells for between N2,500 and N2,700 and has also deepened household usage of cooking gas,” he said.
Ogieva-Okunbor said the association would take effective steps to deepen the use of LPG and increase local consumption from the current 700,000 metric tonnes to 1,000,000 metric tonnes annually.
He said that the target could increase to about five million metric tonnes by 2025 if stakeholders in the sector adhere to standards.
“If achieved, Nigeria will join the league of nations with a high level of LPG consumption,” he said.
The president also stressed the need for reduction of import duty on LPG equipment so as to encourage more investors to come in and deepen LPG consumption in the country.
He, however, expressed concern over growing indiscriminate establishment of gas plants in filling stations, which he said pose a great danger to the citizenry and the economy.
Ogieva-Okunbor said that the association was not against establishments of such plants but insisted that they must operate with the same Standard operating procedure applicable to standard gas plants as laid down by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
He noted that the right procedure for petrol filling stations to dispense cooking gas was for them to retail already filled gas cylinders.
Ogieva-Okunbor added that DPR had given a directive for the removal of gas plants in fuelling stations by December 2020.
While the government is commended for its step on the cooking gas, it should be noted, however, that over two months after the announcement of VAT removal on cooking gas, the price of the commodity has not witnessed any tremendous decline.
Like the stakeholders at the NLPGA confab said, other areas of growth like a well articulated policy on autogas utilisation should be pursued so that the little gains achieved in LPG market could be strongly rooted.
Qatar Airways to take 60% stake in new Rwandan international airport
Qatar Airways has agreed to take a 60% stake in a new $1.3 billion international airport in Rwanda, the state-run Rwanda Development Board said on Twitter on Monday.
The board said a first phase of construction would provide facilities for 7 million passengers a year in the Bugesera district, about 25 km south east of the capital Kigali. A second phase, expected to be completed by 2032, would double capacity to 14 million passengers a year.
The country’s infrastructure minister Claver Gatete told a news conference that a construction company was still being sought to build the airport, and that once work starts, the first phase would take five years to complete, reports Reuters.
Qatar Airways declined to immediately comment outside of normal business hours.
The plans for the new airport are a modification of those drawn up in 2017 for a smaller facility with a maximum capacity of 4.5 million passengers a year in the same location.
Company and government officials said at the time that Rwanda had signed a deal with the African division of Portuguese construction firm Mota-Engil (MOTA.LS) to build an international airport at a cost of $818 million.
Gatete said the investment from Qatar Airways would enable it to build the larger airport.
“We are looking for a bigger sized airport. That’s why we are looking for a bigger investor,” he said.
Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is currently visiting Kigali for the presentation of the International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Award.
Gatete said there was also a possibility that Qatar Airways would help state-run carrier RwandAir to expand, but gave no more details.
Virgin to deploy A350 in Lagos, unfolds 2020 plans
Mega carrier, Virgin Atlantic, has concluded plans to deploy some of its new newest airplanes, the fuel efficient, noise compliant A350, on London-Lagos route beginning from August 2020.
This is due to the strategic importance they attach to Lagos route.
The Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Shal Weiss, made the disclosure when he visited Nigeria.
Weiss was in Nigeria as part of the airline’s strategic growth to reposition and consolidate on its lucrative London-Lagos route. which was launched 18 years ago and to hold business meetings with airline strategic partners.
He told New Telegraph that the airline customers were going to enjoy incentives, stressing that Virgin Atlantic had returned to profitability and ready to launch more routes to South America.
The airline, according to him, is already phasing out its iconic B747 and A340 airplanes, which it hitherto deployed on the London-Lagos route.
His words: “The plans are to retire the old planes like B747 and A340 for the new ones that are coming. B747 by the way has been a fantastic plane. Everybody loves the B747. The passengers absolutely love it especially the upper deck but it has been 50 years that it has been flying and there are new technologies, better planes, more efficient, more noise efficient and we are moving to those. We are not saying we have been operating B747 for 50 years. We retired one actually last week.”
Asked if the carrier was looking at expansion into more cities in Nigeria, the airline chief said his company was in growth mode not only in Nigeria where they have made some strides but expanding to other cities like Tel Aviv, increasing its flights to Mumbai and opening up services to South America.
Evaluating Nigerians’ low propensity to flying
Nigeria boasts of population many say is almost 200 million. This, however, does not translate to huge traffic due more to prevailing economic situation. WOLE SHADARE writes
Nigeria despite a significant increase in domestic passenger traffic in 2018 by almost 30 per cent, there is still a huge gap in travel demand by Nigerians.
No fewer than 15 million air travellers both domestic and international went through Nigeria Airports in 2018, according to figures released by the Consumer Protection Directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
This story is a paradox of sort, given that the geography as well as the demographic profile in Nigeria favours air travel.
The country has a working population of over 80 million, which, in addition to the fact that there are substantial inter-city distances, should favour propensity to travel by air.
The low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita probably provides some explanation for low propensity to fly.
Pakistan has a lower GDP per capita and still manages to record a higher flight propensity than Nigeria. The number of active domestic airlines is also lower in Nigeria than in other countries, again indicating the low level of demand for air travel.
Dubai, a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates had 3.137 population. The Dubai airport handled 89 million passengers in 2018.
Dubai, Singapore example
Same with Singapore with a population of 5.6 million but handled 65.6 million passengers in 2018. Infrastructure, security and deliberate plan of making their airports hubs has contributed to the success they and others have achieved over the years.
More than one third of the Nigerian passenger traffic is handled by Lagos alone, and almost two-thirds of the total is served by the three airports in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt.
Air fares are observed to be on the high side. The most trafficked route in the network, Lagos-Abuja, has an average fare of N30,000 per passenger flight hour. Customer confidence in Nigerian airlines is another reason air travel demand is deemed low.
Airlines in Nigeria, as in several places, are mostly passenger movers, hence, the focus on passenger traffic.
Traffic at the 20 nodes shows that over the period 2007–20182 Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt airports accounted for 76 per cent of domestic passenger traffic at the 20 domestic airports.
Abuja and Lagos are Nigeria’s political and commercial capitals respectively, while Port-Harcourt is a major oil producing city. Clearly, the cost of air fares naturally excludes a large share of Nigeria’s travelling public.
Much of the movements recorded in Lagos pertain to corporate travellers in the middle and high income categories; Lagos houses much of this group in Nigeria given its status as a megacity.
In Abuja, passengers are mostly top government and private sector workers, while Port-Harcourt travellers thrive on the oil economy. The lower middle class where a great potential for market exists generally do not find air fares affordable. They therefore resort to corporate road transport services.
The implication of low traffic densities in several nodes is that many city-pair routes are not commercially viable to the degree that active airlines will increase their service frequencies on these sectors.
Consequently, many nodes in the network do not record sufficiently large passenger movements. Nevertheless, city pairs in Nigeria’s network have great potential for air travel as road distances on these corridors range from 200 km to over 1400 km.
Air transport offers the fastest means of covering these distances as long as airlines keep to scheduled departure time.
Air travel is one of the barometers to gauge the health of a nation. Whenever a country is doing well, it will reflect on the number of people that travel by air. Nigerian aviation is not a stand-alone. It is part of the bigger economy of Nigeria and contributing to the GDP. It is obvious that aviation is the quickest barometer to check any economy.
A frequent traveler and an airline owner, who preferred anonymity, said: “If you check the Nigerian travelling populace, 70 to 80 per cent of those travelling are business people, as compared to the outside world where only 40 per cent are business people, 30 per cent tourists and the other 30 per cent are students and others.
“In Nigeria if you check the flights going to Abuja, 80 to 85 per cent are on business purpose and once these people don’t have business to do, it is obvious that there won’t be any movement because if you are not going to do business, no travelling. So it is a clear quick indication and barometer for the economy.
“So, if the economy is not performing as expected and businessmen are not moving, the airlines will not find the passengers.
“Once the economy begins to jump, business starts to move; then you see movement in our airports. Where 80 to 85 per cent of the passengers are doing business, most of them are not seeing any business to do now. I guess what is happening in Abuja right now is more politics than business. So it is the politicians that are moving.”
The spokesman of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye, recently told New Telegraph that the low passenger traffic was a reflection of the prevailing economic situation, noting that the aviation industry cannot be insulated from the rest of the economic mix.
“Air travel and the aviation sector respond to the prevailing economic situation; just like it affects other sectors. In air travel, there is low season and there is also high season. Even on international flights, there are times seats are fully booked and there are also times of flying empty seats. But safety remains our number one priority,” he noted.
Road transport alternative
Since the availability of alternative modes of transportation that are reasonably close substitutes for air transport diminishes with distance travel, it is expected that the demand for air transport will be less elastic for longer flights than for shorter flights.
Furthermore, international travel tends to be spread over more time than domestic travel, so that the airfare is a smaller proportion of overall trip costs, which makes international travel less sensitive to changes in ticket prices.
In addition, leisure travellers are more likely to postpone trips to specific locations in response to higher fares, or to shop around for those locations offering more affordable fares. Consequently, it is expected that the demand for air transport for leisure reasons will be more elastic than business travel.
This basic concept of own-price elasticity of air travel in different market segments suggests that if air fares are reduced on Nigeria’s domestic routes, demand for air travel is likely to increase, since these routes are short-haul. the prohibitive costs of air travel exclude several potential consumers of the service.
Seeking permanent solution to housing crisis
Stakeholders in housing and mortgage finance sectors are not leaving any stone unturned in finding solutions to housing crisis in the country. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa is faced with many challenges raging from over population, high rate of rural-urban migration and overcrowding, and high rate of insecurity.
Apart from these, absence of quality accommodation is also one of the biggest challenges with housing deficit of between 17million and 20million units.
As at the last estimate. the country needed to produce one million houses every year in the next 20 years to bridge the gap.
Presently, the total number of houses being produced in the country is less than 100,000 units per year.
Inhibitors such as high cost of accessing funds, absence of long-term fund, high cost of land and building materials, harsh business environment, inconsistent government policies, bottleneck in obtaining planning approval and title and poor budgetary allocation to housing sector have been blamed for inability of both government and private investors to provide affordable housing units in Nigeria.
Overwhelmed by these challenges, stakeholders in housing and mortgage finance sector of the economy, at different fora, are already seeking alternative approaches to the issues in order to nib housing deficit in the bud.
While operators in the mortgage sector are calling for a totally new business model, members of the Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN) are speaking with one voice, seeking ways to turn the challenges into opportunities.
Speaking on the sideline of the Mortgage Banking Sub-sector CEOs’ annual retreat organised by Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN) in Lagos, the Managing Director of Family Homes Funds, Femi Adewole, called for the adoption of a different thinking in addressing housing deficit in Africa’s largest economy.
According to Adewole, the current approach adopted by stakeholders in the housing sector will not deliver the expected results except a change is made to it.
By sticking to the traditional way of doing things, he pointed out that the result that all stakeholders were achieving in terms of home ownership and access to housing was way off the mark.
He tasked them to look at a total transformation and a totally new business model that will yield the desired results.
He said: “The truth is, in terms of what we need to do, the results we need to get, and the level of home ownership and access to housing that we need to attain, the result that all of us are achieving is way off the mark. We have barely registered a dot. That calls for a different kind of thinking.
“I understand the conversations about improvement. But my little knowledge of business processes and strategies suggest that there are contexts where improvements are inadequate. You must look at a total transformation and a totally new business model.”
Themed: ‘’Critical Success Factors for Continuity and Viability of the Mortgage Banking Sub-Sector in Nigeria: Mortgage Digitization, Human Capacity Development and Management Succession.’’ the Family Homes Funds boss threw a couple of challenges at members of Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria on how to make the new approach for housing development possible in Nigeria.
He said: ‘’One of the things Family Home Funds has committed itself to and I think we will like MBAN to be part of that is sponsoring some kind of centre for innovation for housing finance.
“We need to think of a solution that speaks to our context, culture and macro-economic circumstances, which is unlikely to change in the short term.
“If anything, we will probably expect a medium term deterioration and, therefore, the discussion must be about what transformation is needed to achieve the results that we have in the face of urbanisation. I can’t think of any better set of people to address that change agenda than the people at MBAN.”
In his submission, the Managing Director, Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), Mr. Kehinde Ogundimu, tasked stakeholders on demand based housing development.
He urged stakeholders, especially those in the mortgage sub-sector, to understudy the needs of customers before rolling out their mortgage plans.
According to him, stakeholders in the mortgage sector should not always be waiting for houses to be constructed before creating mortgages.
He urged them to start doing what he called “reverse engineering,” pointing out that mortgage providers were the closest to the customers and that they had better understanding of the kind of housing unit they needed
“When we understand what they need, we can now go back to developers to see the things we should build. We don’t have to wait until someone has built a 4-bedroom house before looking for those who will take mortgage because that is not what the millennials are looking for,” he said.
He also tasked stakeholders on the need for industry survey to be able to find out the demand and how to create the mortgage.
According to him , stakeholders should influence the kind of houses that are being built, which suit the taste of buyers.
“My challenge to us is to have that introspection and determine what the needs are and have a pipeline of products we can create mortgages for,” he said.
According to Ogundimu, with digitalisation, stakeholders could disrupt the industry in Nigeria like it was done in many parts of the world.
Executive Secretary of ACHN, Toye Eniola, noted that establishment of politically motivated parallel housing organisations by governors and inadequate moral support and backing in terms of loan guarantee were limitations to optimal performance of housing corporations to deliver on mandate
Despite these limitations, he said stakeholders should seek opportunity to distinguish themselves and doing something different.
While tasking them to go the extra mile to think through how to succeed, Eniola stated that available funding options with Family Homed Fund included funds for development, rental housing funds, funds for land bank development and off takers loans
President of MBAN, Akinniyi Akinlusi, said it had become imperative for the association to digitalise, noting that over 75 per cent of Nigerians employed or self-employed in the informal sector needed to be reached with various mortgage products.
“We have a uniform underwriting standard for informal sector and self-employed. We must digitise our services and operations so that we can reach out to them and bring those people whom have been left behind in home ownership back in,” he said.
Stakeholders should consider all options to deliver cheap and quality houses to the majority of Nigerians.
Dangote Refinery awards $368m contracts to local firms
●Policy to boost implementation of Nigerian Content Policy, says NCDBM
The award of $368 million contracts to 120 local contractors at the site of 650,000 barrels per day capacity Dangote Petroleum Refinery will further boost implementation of local content policy in Nigeria.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board, (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote, who was quoted to have said this, maintained that the $12 billion project under construction is expected to be a part of major contributors to Nigeria content development initiative.
This, a statement from Dangote Petroleum Refinery quoted Wabote to have said, is already being done through the award of contracts to Nigerian contractors, thereby building local capacity.
The private refinery owned by Dangote Group is under construction in Lekki Free Trade Zone, Nigeria. When completed, it will have a capacity to process about 650,000 barrels per day of crude oil.
Recall that the company recently announced the award of $368 million contract to 120 local contractors at the site, as part of its contribution to Nigeria content development initiative.
The company revealed that there were several Nigerian content opportunities in the company’s refinery and petrochemical project.
Speaking on the sideline of the 9th Practical Nigerian Content, Wabote said: “First of all, to be able to drive local content you need projects. For the fact that Dangote has been able to site it project in-country is the first step to the actualisation of Local content.
“Dangote might as well had taken the refinery elsewhere, but he decided to execute the project in Nigeria, so that is a plus to the Nigeria investment sector. Secondly, at the peak of the construction of the refinery, about 65, 000 workers are on site, and the majority of those workers in terms of ratio that are providing various services, are Nigerians.
“Also, there is a lot of sub-contract that have been awarded within the projects site, the majority of those contracts are executed by Nigerian companies. To a very large extent, that is an example of believing in your country and trying to do things to enhance the development of your country.
“Although they are sited in the free trade zone, which has its own advantages, and off course he is entitled to enjoy those free trade advantages as enshrined in the law, but in terms of local content, it is a typical example of someone who believes in his country, someone who is patriotic to establish such a monumental projects within the shores of our land.”
He commended the company for training young Nigerians who will eventually take up the management of the refinery, saying “we will all eventually retire one day, and young people will take over from us. Those of us at the industry, at 60 we will all retire and then these engineers will take over from us.”
Oil sector attracts $38.7m foreign capital
Nigeria’s oil sector attracted $38.7 million foreign capital in third quarter of 2019.
The foreign capital importation into the sector, a data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed, appreciated by 28.65 per cent to $38.66 million in the third quarter of 2019.
This, according to the NBS, in its Nigerian Capital Importation Report for the Third Quarter of 2019, is in comparison to the $30.05 million imported into the sector in the second quarter of 2019.
In addition, the NBS disclosed that capital imported into the petroleum industry in the third quarter accounted for 0.72 per cent of total capital imported into the country across all sectors in the period under review.
In addition, the report noted that the value of capital imported into the oil and gas industry in the third quarter of 2019 was 400.13 per cent higher than the $38.66 million capital imported into the sector in the third quarter of 2018.
The value of capital imported in the petroleum industry in the third quarter of 2019, was the highest recorded since the first quarter of 2018 when $85.62 million was imported into the sector.
In general, the NBS stated that the total value of capital imported into Nigeria stood at $5.368 billion in the third quarter of 2019, representing a decline of 7.78 per cent compared to second quarter of 2019 and a 87.99 per cent increase compared to the third quarter of 2018.
It added that the “the largest amount of capital importation by type was received through portfolio investment, which accounted for 55.88 per cent, ($2999.50m) of total capital importation, followed by Other Investment, which accounted for 40.39 per cent ($2.167.98 million) of total capital, and then Foreign Direct Investment FDI, which accounted for 3.73 per cent ($200.08 million) of total capital imported in third quarter 2019.
Power: FG mulls deployment of effective metering
The Federal Government at the weekend expressed readiness to improve the country’s power sector through effective metering that will meet consumers’ demands and also address liquidity challenges rocking the sector.
Investors in power sector have put the figures of liquidity in the sector at N1.1 trillion. The crisis, the investors including Group Head, Finance, Sahara Group Limited, Aigbe Olotu, argued, was growing by N30 billion per month.
Minister of Power, Mr. Saleh Mamman, who – during facility inspection of Momas Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company (MEMMCOL) factory in Ogun State, declared plans to tackle the power crisis including this liquidity with adequate monitoring, maintained that effective metering of electricity consumers remained the best option to help distribution companies get more money to pay generating companies.
Metering, the minister said, “is one of the things bothering Nigerians particularly the electricity consumers. When I resumed, I took it as my priority as one of the important areas on electricity market liquidity and sustainability.
“I have to produce meters to get more money for the sector. We will get more money from distribution companies to pay GenCos. And, the only way to justify that is to go by metering. That is why I’m here to see it and believe it and to also direct on how to get meters soonest.
“I am here to inspect the factory of MOMAS Meter Manufacturing Company because I don’t believe in sitting in the office and listening to story. I want to see things for myself and today am convinced that we have a Nigerian that has capacity and capability to meet metering gap in the country.
“This has now encouraged me to also tell our local companies has the capacity to produce meter that is expected and required in-country.”
The minister commended the management of MEMMCOL for puting up the gigantic meter manufacturing company that has capacity to meet Meter Assets Providers (MAPs) specification in the country.
“I am very much impressed with the local content driven initiative by MOMAS company. It is good to see a meter manufacturing company, to see a Nigerian producing meter up to 1,000 per day. This, is indeed commendable. Momas is one of the top meter manufactures in Nigeria that we should be proud of.
“We should allow and encourage investors into the country and also gives consideration to our own local manufacturers to grow.”
Chairman of MEMMCOL, Mr. Kola Balogun, said that his company had the capacity to produce above 50,000 smart meters per month if given the support by government and adequate patronage from distributing companies.
Balogun commended the minister for inspecting his meter manufacturing company, while assuring the minister that the company will continue to produce quality and standard meter that meets international best standard.
“I want to tell Nigerians that we have the capacity and the capability to deliver metering solution to also bridged metering requirement in the country. All we need is government interventions to be able to make liquidity available to us to produce for the larger populace that requires metering.
Refineries’ fraudulent maintenance probe without conviction
Pessimism keeps growing among Nigerians about any positive outcome from the plan by the National Assembly to probe the $36.4 billion spent on fuel import and refinery maintenance in four years after several others of such probe were initiated with no effect. Adeola Ysuuf reports
The daily injection of about N1.6 billion on fuel subsidy seemed to have angered members of the House of Representatives penultimate weekend. The lower legislative chamber vented its anger within an area of its jurisdiction with the probe of $36.39 billion expended on importation of fuel and refineries maintenance by the Federal Government in four years began.
While $36 billion was said to have been spent on importation of fuel, $396.33 million is allegedly spend on the Turn-Around Maintenance of the petroleum refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.
The move by the House followed unanimous adoption of a motion entitled ‘Call for investigation of the $396.33m allegedly spent in four years on turn around maintenance of the nation’s three refineries.’
At the plenary at the weekend, Mr Ifeanyi Momah called for the probe, alleging that the amount spent on maintenance of the facilities had not produced results.
The House, therefore, called on the Federal Government to consider “divesting a certain percentage of its shareholding in the Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries to competent investors under a transparent and fair bidding process.”
Also, the House mandated the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to conduct an investigative hearing into the maintenance expenses beginning from 2013 till date.
It asked the committee to report back within eight weeks for further legislative action.
Momah said Nigeria had been living with the “derogatory appellation” of being a major oil producing nation that is heavily reliant on importation of refined petroleum products for its domestic consumption as a result of its low refining capacity.
He said this was in spite of the fact that the country has three major refineries with installed capacity to refine 445,000 barrels per day, enough for domestic consumption and export.
The lawmaker said: “This objective has not been realised owing to a combination of factors, including corruption and inefficiency in the running of the refineries.
“The House observes the assertion by the Nigeria National Resource Charter in the report that the NNPC spent a whopping $396.33 millio between 2013 and 2017 to carry out repair works.
“The House also observes the claim that the NNPC spent N276.872 billion on operating expenses of the refineries between 2015 and 2018, as well as $36 billion on importation of petroleum products between 2013 and 2017.”
According to the lawmaker, the strategic goal of establishing local refining facilities as a socio-economic game-changer has continued to elude the country’s oil and gas industry.
Cynicism from within
The probe, check by New Telegraph showed at the weekend, has been greeted by pessimism expressed by expert who believe that the investigation may go the way of other previous ones before it.
Petroleum Engineer, Adebayo Alamutu, who commended the boldness of House of Representatives to look into the matter of alleged fraud in the refineries’ TAM, maintained that this was not the first time that such probe panel had been instituted.
He said: “The question begging for answer now is that will this move by the House of Representatives not go the way of the previous ones?”
Alamutu’s view was corroborated by Monsurat Oseni-Hamzat, an economist.
According her, “many Nigerians will naturally believe that nothing will come out of the new move by the House of Representatives. The onus is now on the lawmakers to prove them wrong by ensuring that probe is taken to a logical conclusion.”
A history of probe foreclosure
Investigations by this newspaper revealed that the Federal Government had jettisoned any plans to review the investments made between 1999 and 2015 on the refineries, despite ineffectiveness of the contracts.
About N264 billion invested in this respect is likely to be forgotten.
Instead, a former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said in a podcast that the Federal Government was aggressively pursuing the refineries’ improvement programme to realise its agenda to end fuel importation by 2019.
A senior officer at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources told this newspaper that government would not reopen books on the investments made on maintenance of the installations.
The nation’s three refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, documents of the NNPC showed, had gulped up to $1.746 billion or N264 billion using a 16 year average USD/naira exchange rate of N150.99/$1.
The source said: “It is a consensus that we move forward and tread softly on money spent on TAM, especially between 1999 and 2011. Even though the $1.746 billion covers spending up to 2015, we all know that the president had said he was not interested in probing spending during the time of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
“I can assure you that except a miracle happens, no one in this government will open up the investments made on TAM. Instead, the ministry is determined more than before to move away from the approach of quick fixes and undertake a comprehensive revamp of the plants.”
Who spends what?
The four refineries have a combined capacity to refine 445,000 barrels of crude per day.
Inefficiencies of these refineries had worsened the deficit in supply of petroleum products and raised dependence on importation.
The $1.746 billion TAM investments is different from the $308 million reportedly spent for the same purpose by the military governments of late General Sani Abacha ($216 million) and General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) $92 million.
A former GMD of NNPC, Funsho Kupolokun, had, according to report, said that over $1 billion was committed to refineries’ repairs between 1999 and 2007.
After the late President Musa Yar’Adua stopped the sale of the refineries in 2007, NNPC reportedly announced it had awarded contract to a Nigerian firm to carry out a comprehensive TAM on all the refineries. The contract sum as revealed by the then NNPC boss, Abubakar Yar’Adua, was $57 million.
In 2009, the then GMD of NNPC, Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, also announced that the Corporation spent $200 million on the maintenance of the Kaduna refinery.
In 2012, NNPC was reported in local media to have planned repair of the refineries with N152 billion.
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alison-Madueke, was quoted to have said $32 million had already been paid for the materials needed for the said repairs.
NNPC, in January 2015, had in a statement, said it took decision in 2011 to rehabilitate all refineries, using the Original Refinery Builder (ORB) of each of the refineries.
Maintaining that government was ready to go ahead with plans to put the refineries back to shape through a transparent bidding process, Kachikwu reiterated that neither Oando nor Agip had been handed over the right of maintenance and running of any of the refineries.
His statement came days after the Senate rejected an earlier announcement that Agip, a subsidiary of the Italian oil giant, Eni, had committed to repairing the Port Harcourt refinery, as part of a $15 billion investment that includes building a 150 thousand barrel per day refinery and a power plant.
Kachikwu had also said Nigeria was facing an emergency situation in the petroleum sector requiring urgent attention.
He said: “When I made the comment that I want to see us exiting fuel importation by 2019, and that I will leave if I don’t accomplish it, it was to energise everybody to the fact that 2019 is not a play game.
“We need to work hard for that to happen. We need the cooperation of everybody, including the National Assembly, Presidency, and other agencies like the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), to speed up the process. We are in an emergency situation. We need to plan ahead to ensure that fuel supply continue to be available.”
To sustain the current uninterrupted fuel supply in the country in the last two years, the minister said the government spent about N3.4 trillion on the importation of about 20 million metric tons of petroleum products between January and December last year.
Besides, he said, about 30 per cent of the total foreign exchange allocation from the Central Bank of Nigeria went into importation of petroleum products, apart the logistics of the importation and distribution programme.
The commencement of probe by members of Femi Gbajabiamila-led House of Representatives is commendable. However, the House will only be seen as courageous if it carries out the probe as promised with a view to bringing those who are found wanting to book.
Also, though the pessimism expressed by some Nigerians over this probe is legitimate due to long years of disappointment from previous probes, it should not discourage them from joining hands with the House of Representatives to ensure that this fresh probe is seen to a logical end.
Rice ban: Ghanaian farmers seek adoption of Nigerian model
Following a resolution by Ghana government to impose ban on imported rice by 2022, farmers under the aegis of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) have advised the country’s government to adopt the Nigerian model by making the ban immediate instead of waiting for 2022.
The association, in a statement signed by Abdul- Rahman Mohammed, National President and Board Chairman of PFAG, called for a show of commitment and steps to be put in place for immediate ban rather than wait until 2022.
It said adopting Nigeria’s food importation ban concept would not only help to reduce Ghana’s import bill, but create employment opportunities in Ghana and stabilise the cedi.
Recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria had, in August this year, closed the borders to neighbouring countries in order to check smuggling of rice and other contraband goods into the country.
The development has also been supported by Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), whose effort in local rice production has recently witnessed a boost.
According to PFAG, “concrete measures need, therefore, to be put in place to commence ban on imports such as the reduction in 2020 rice imports.”
The statement commended government for setting aside a day to appreciate the contribution of farmers to the growth and development of the country.
The 35th edition of Farmer’s Day is on the theme: “Enhancing Small Scale Agriculture towards Agribusiness Development.”
The association has, therefore, congratulated all smallholder farmers, especially those who would be awarded prizes at the local level.
It said government should direct for institutional purchase of local rice by as the school feeding programme, free SHS, the Military and Para institutions.
It said government should mandate all banks to increase their loan portfolio with low interest rate on agriculture.
The statement said critical issues on the eve of this year’s celebration have taken the spirit off the theme.
It said smallholder rice farmers, who were keen in agribusiness were apprehensive and despondent as the rice they produced during the last crop season lies waste and possibly to the vagaries of harmattan bush fires.
“Farmers are confronted with lack of access to combine harvesters, lack of storage and exploitation by traders, who have taken advantage of the desperate situation,” he added.
It said the National Food Buffer Stock had announced plans to mop up the surplus rice by providing minimum guaranteed prices to farmers but has not materialised leaving the rice farmers to their fate.
It said Ghanaian farmers have proven their ability to produce enough rice to meet domestic consumption.
The statement said this was manifested by the drastic increase in rice production in 2019 of which greater quantities still remain unharvested due to lack of harvesting equipment and a guaranteed market.
Unfortunately, only 34 per cent of Ghanaians consume Ghana rice, while 680,000 tonnes of rice costing $500 million is imported annually.
The association believes that the high appetite for imported rice has significantly contributed to rice millers lacking market for Ghana rice leading to the current rice glut in Northern Ghana.
“This phenomenon if not addressed with the urgency it deserves, can worsen the poverty situation of smallholder farmers and majority of rural people, who still rank as the poorest in the country and thereby negatively impacting on the successes the nation chalked in recent times on the campaign against poverty and food insecurity,” it added.
The statement has therefore recommended to government to explore new technologies to address aflatoxin and other post-harvest challenges in rice production.
It said government should bring storage facilities closer to rice farming areas by first completing the One District, One Warehouse programme, commission the completed ones and set up temporary cocoons in the communities.
OML 55: Oil asset security breach threatens 248,000 barrels
●Four JTF soldiers killed in oil bloc pirate attack
The security of oil assets across the Niger Delta was, at the weekend, breached, threatening the over two million barrels per day production from acreages across the region.
This, checks by this newspaper showed, was buoyed by a fresh attack on Oil Mining Lease (OML) 55 where four soldiers were feared killed.
Belemaoil, operator of the bloc, produced 248,000 barrels from the asset in October 2019.
Nigeria had increased production in recent past due to the relative peace it enjoys at the oil rich Niger Delta region.
The new attack at the Buguma Creek is, however, posing threat to the oil production if not managed in time.
This came as details of how pirates allegedly killed the four soldiers of the Joint Task Force of the Nigerian Army on Belemaoil operated OML 55 emerged at the weekend.
The soldiers were guarding the oil bloc located in Rivers State in the Eastern Niger Delta and a report by Africa Oil + Gas Report showed they were killed when pirates confronted a gunboat on a creek in the licenced area.
“The soldiers were killed on the Buguma Creek,” the African focused oil and gas magazine reported.
Noting that further details “are still sketchy and Belemaoil officials say they are still conducting their own investigations,” the report said: “The perspective that Africa Oil+Gas Report gets from the company is that the confrontation that led to the killings was not targeted at Belemaoil.”
The Nigerian independent oil firm acquired Chevron Nigeria’s 40 per cent of the JV asset in 2014, with the state hydrocarbon company, NNPC, holding 60 per cent.
It is currently ‘carpeting’ the acreage in three dimensional (3D) Seismic Survey.
The BGP/IDSL consortium is acquiring the data, which spans 1,300 square kilometres on the surface, covering the Robertkiri, Idama, Inda and Jokka fields in the acreage as well as some adjoining areas.
“At a time when there’s very little exploration in the country, the OML 55 survey is one of the largest seismic acquisitions in the swamplands of the Niger Delta.
“The surface area of the acreage is 808 square kilometres, and the programmed fold of coverage is 180. Belemaoil expects to acquire deeper than six to seven seismic seconds, so it can image possible reservoirs as deep as 14,000 feet True Vertical Depth subsea,” the report read.
It is in the nature of seismic acquisitions to survey more than the areal size of the asset, if the desire is to cover the entire acreage, to ensure that every inch of the territory is accounted for in the resulting, processed data set.
Belemaoil’s founder and chief executive, Jack Rich Tein, is reputed to be a community friendly ‘son of the Niger Delta’, but that hasn’t shielded OML 55 from the incipient violence in Rivers State.
Indeed, there has been a spike in kidnappings of oil workers in Rivers State in the last nine months, from the run up to the February-March 2019 elections through the several months in the aftermath.
No other state in Nigeria’s oil rich belt has been as overwhelmed with criminality, in recent times as Rivers.
The OML 55 survey was supposed to take 20-24 months from November 2018, meaning that it would have been completed by November 2020.
Belemaoil produced about 8,000 barrels of oil per day from OML 55 in October 2019 and it is hoping to utilise the seismic data to improve the field development and increase production by at least a factor of three.
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