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$10 Billion Gas Project: National Assembly, NLNG Clash Over Contract Secrecy

Daud Olatunji

A major confrontation is brewing between the National Assembly and Nigerian LNG Limited (NLNG) over the $10 billion NLNG Train-7 gas project in Bonny Island, Rivers State. 

 

The legislative body is demanding access to the project’s contractual details, which the contractors, under instruction from NLNG, have refused to provide.

The contractors, Saipem Contracting Limited and Daewoo Engineering and Construction Limited, have cited a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with NLNG as the basis for their refusal. 

Documents revealed  that NLNG, where Nigeria holds a 49% stake, directed the contractors to withhold information from the lawmakers, challenging the committee’s authority to probe the project.

This standoff began in March when the National Assembly’s joint committee on Gas, co-chaired by Senator Jarigbe Jarigbe and Representative Nicholas Mutu, requested detailed information on the project and scheduled an investigative hearing. 

Despite repeated demands, Saipem and Daewoo maintained their silence, citing contractual confidentiality.

On May 21, Saipem’s Managing Director, Michele Poggi, appeared before the committee but withheld the requested information, angering lawmakers who saw this as a direct affront to Nigeria’s legislative body.

 The session was adjourned to June 5, with the committee reiterating its demands.

In their responses, both contractors indicated they had sought NLNG’s consent to share the details but were instructed to decline. 

NLNG argued that the committee’s requests were beyond its legal bounds and raised confidentiality concerns, challenging the extent of the National Assembly’s investigative powers.

NLNG operates as a joint venture involving NNPC Limited, Shell Gas B.V., TotalEnergies, and Eni International, with a significant investment in expanding its gas production capacity from 22 million tonnes per annum to 30 mtpa through the Train-7 project. 

The Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract for this expansion was awarded to a consortium including Saipem, Chiyoda, and Daewoo.

Amid the escalating tension, sources within the committee suggest a potential showdown.

 The committee member, speaking anonymously, hinted at possible severe measures, including seeking the authority to issue warrants to compel the appearance of NLNG and the contractors. 

The contractors and NLNG are scheduled to appear before the committee again on Thursday, with the National Assembly keenly observing how its leadership will navigate this high-stakes conflict.

The outcome of this confrontation could have significant implications for legislative oversight and the transparency of large-scale national projects in Nigeria.

 

Source : Premium Times

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