Suspect Nigerian LNG project triggers angry words

Vol 18, PW 1 (28 Aug 14) Midstream & Downstream

Angry words are flying between officials from India’s oil and external affairs ministries over a Nigerian proposal to invest in the development of the ‘speculative’ 22m t/y Olokola LNG project.

First India’s high commissioner to Nigeria AR Ghanashyam accused the oil ministry, GAIL and OVL of not cooperating by refusing to attend a meeting he organised in Dubai on August 11 with project promoter Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In a bitter e-mail response to external affairs ministry joint secretary Soumen Bagchi on August 4, oil ministry joint secretary PK Singh ripostes: “It is not understood what cooperation is expected considering the absence of any (formal) proposal by the Nigerian side.

” Singh says he told high commissioner Ghanashyam on the phone that the government does not interfere in the commercial matters of individual companies, adding that a Wood Mackenzie report dismissed the Olokola project as ‘speculative’. Worse, says Singh, BG, Chevron and Shell pulled out of the project, first proposed in 2005, frustrated by slow progress.

“The ministry receives several frivolous and potentially fraudulent proposals from different quarters,” says Singh. “Such proposals, not accompanied by credible information, do not make headway.

” Singh’s email was copied to GAIL chairman BC Tripathi and OVL managing director SP Garg. A GAIL source adds NNPC hasn’t even made a Final Investment Decision yet.