By IKENNA EMEWU
Our investigation, interviews and other inquiries have revealed that there is more politics in the activation and commissioning of the AKK Gas pipeline project by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 30, 2020 than holistic real economic target.
A point not in dispute is that there is no known and exploitable natural gas along the Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano axis of the natural gas pipeline Buhari commissioned.
From our investigations, the gas comes from the Niger Delta and Imo and Abia states in the South East.
The foundation project that started in about 2008 ensured that pipeline was laid from Calabar through Akwa Ibom, Abia, Imo, Enugu into Ajaokuta in Kogi State. The gas fields of these regions are the raw material base for the mega project. So it confounds how the activation started from the receiving end instead of carrying the supplier end along for equity, profitability and total development of the sector with high economic potential for the whole country.
AKK gas project best secured, beneficial if South East, South South axes are activated, says Ndukwe
On June 30, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the 614km mega Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano natural gas pipeline to serve as impetus for better economy through the exploitation of natural gas for power generation and industrialization.
We monitored the interview Engr. Sam Ndukwe, former top management staffer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) granted Arise TV, a day after the commissioning
Ndukwe is one of the most informed Nigerians about the nation’s gas pipeline system, having supervised the NNPC’s West Africa gas pipeline project. In his 35 years of service with the NNPC, he was once coordinator of the West Africa Gas Pipeline project. He later served as the General Manager, Gas Pipelines Infrastructure and also Group General Manager, Power and at last, Managing Director, NNPC Gas and Power Investment Ltd. Currently, he is the MD of GVL Nigeria Ltd
With his pedigree, he is just the right person to discuss the gas pipeline project, a brainchild of the NNPC.
Nigeria’s gas endowment
Managing and preparing our gas infrastructure has been a big issue over the years. The pipeline project has been on for years and it is gratifying that some of us that worked on the project are here to witness the activation of the AKK project Nigeria is a country richly endowed with natural gas which I would say we happened on. The quantity has always been estimated between 187 and 203 trillion cubic liters, depending on source, including the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR)
So, Nigeria found gas by accident when looking for crude oil. As we produced crude oil, by happenstance, we got natural gas in an amazing quantity.
Since the discovery of natural gas, we have put it into use as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and partly also as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) which we have exported and also converted into local use for power generation in some gas power plants such as in Lagos and Port Harcourt and also in powering industries near Lagos that have access linkage to the national gas pipeline to power the factories in the Agbara Industrial area in Ogun State.
Yet, a little of the gas is flared. We used to flare up to some 20 percent but now, it’s as low as between 10 percent and 7 percent.
Because of the benefits of natural gas in aiding industrialisation, the AKK happening now is a good development and enabler for the economy of Nigeria.
Mega AKK project
This Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano pipeline project is some 614km stretch and of 40-inch diameter. Forty inches diameter means a little child playing can walk through the interior. It is meant to impact all the states on the corridor for power generation and industrialisation.
Many state governments today discuss and target to develop industrial parks, but that can’t happen or be achievable without natural gas. We need it to activate such industrial processes and dreams. So, AKK is a major impetus to the northern axis where it would operate. However, this project is just part of the larger Trans-Nigerian gas pipeline system, some on going, most completed.
Security of project
The design I managed was intended not for just the AKK. What was commissioned is a subset or a segment. The whole project is from Calabar, through Ikot-Ekpene up to Umuahia, Enugu State and then linking Ajaokuta and north. There should be the phase 2 from Calabar, and the South East. The Obiafu-Obrikom pipeline is even bigger than AKK and ferries natural gas to Oben and later Ajaokuta.
From our experiences, not even the entire Nigerian Army can provide adequate security around the pipeline. The peace of mind in the local communities within the corridor is the only thing and way to secure them. At construction, the locals were engaged to weld and do some other works. Welding pipeline of this size involves high level skill and it impacted in making the local people who did the work professionals, a way of finding livelihood. People are restive when they are not busy. Industries would spring up along the pipeline axis. Moreover, the pipeline is a waste without an off taker.
Setting up power plants along the corridors of the project helps create other opportunities instead of taking generated power from Lagos and Niger Delta.
Yes, I am aware that some interests in the Niger Delta are agitating and that is normal given our past experiences.
The AKK 3.6b cubic feet of gas draws from Asa in Abia, Egbema/Izombe in Imo State and there is no gas economic possibility in the East and Niger Delta yet. The plan was originally for activation in the entire area the pipeline covers. So it would be improper to let crises happen before palliatives. The best is to make sure that the gas pipeline benefits the entire axes of its coverage including the South South and the South East. We need to do the CAP as we did the AKK. If that is not done, there will be agitation and security problems. The gas sources must be attended to or there would be no results.
The reason for the AKK coming on just now is because the project takes time to mature. It is a mega project and if we are to borrow, they are many conditions before maturity. Yes, it has been long, but gas didn’t have so much value and utility from time. Today, all over the world, the use and economic benefits keep expanding. For instance, USA natural gas usage stands at 35 percent while it is 41 percent in the UK.
To get this project done, eventually, we had to borrow from China and the equity supplied by the NNPC as its contribution, and that is what is powering its progress now. The planned 3.6gw power plant is tied to this project and if it is not done, then constructing pipeline is not viable.
I supposed that the borrowing is going to be safe for the project completion. It is my thinking that NNPC will ring fence the project and its financing and make sure it is not just a part of the NNPC costs. That way, the project will run on the West Africa pipeline which I managed and that involves transparency.
Gas is of no use to the individual if not converted to petrochemicals, fertiliser, power plants and its ancillary uses.
So the plan was to target steady power supply and that makes life and economic activity easier. That way smaller players in the economic chain would set up businesses that derive from this project
The superficial facts from the interview nudged us to probe further into why the project activation started with the AKK and not from Calabar and other parts of the South South and South East gas fields where the pipelines are already complete and ready for activation.
Some documents we got from the NNPC website and other sources gave a better picture
Gas master plan
As part of Nigeria’s resolve to become a major international player in the international gas market as well as to lay a solid framework gas infrastructure expansion within the domestic market, the Nigerian Gas Master Plan was approved on February 13, 2008.
“The Master-Plan is a guide for the commercial exploitation and management of Nigeria’s gas sector” an NNPC web source said.
It aims at growing the Nigerian economy with gas by pursuing three key strategies:
- Stimulate the multiplier effect of gas in the domestic economy
- Position Nigeria competitively in high value export markets
- Guarantee the long term energy security of Nigeria
Based on this thinking, the NNPC for the Nigerian government mapped out an original holistic natural gas pipeline project that is so detailed not to leave out or leave behind the areas of Nigeria where the natural gas is drawn from. It is also important to know that the gas pipeline infrastructure is already there, reason many don’t understand why the government isolated the AKK axis for activation leaving behind the South East and South South end of the same project
Nigeria’s total completed gas pipeline
Four Backbone Gas Transmission Networks
- Over 2000km of pipelines with about 2bcf/d flow capacity
- 3 World Scale Gas Processing Hubs Scope to extract over 1mtpa of LPG each
To be developed on a Private sector Build, Own and operate basis with initial capacity to process about 250-300mcf/d increasing to 1.5 — 2.5bcf/d
- Numerous Gathering and Spur Lines
There is also on ground, 261 km x 20/36 inches pipeline from QIT-Ikot Abasi-Ukanafun-Obigbo-Ob/Ob with:
- Artery to connect gas supply to feed the Ajaokuta-Kano line and the ELPS via OB3 pipeline
- 418km x 36 inches pipeline from Obigbo-Umuahia-Enugu-Ajaokuta; 683 km x 40 inches pipeline from Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna/ Kano
Another trunk is to connect gas supply from SPDC/CNL’s Assa North development via the Eastern axis through AKK. There is also further reinforcing supply to the East and to AKK 174 km x 24 inches pipeline from QIT axis, traversing Calabar-Ikot-Ekpene-Umuahia.
Most of these data are on the NNPC and Nigeria Gas Limited websites and other sources, including www.nnpcgroup.com
2800 hectares Ogidigben Industrial Park
This is the industrial park Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made reference to in 2017 during his visit to the Delta State to quell the renewed restiveness by the local people claiming that the government side-lined them.
* Desirable location by the ocean and the Escravos River, for inland access
* Dedicated gas based industrial park with FTZ & Port Status
* Proximity to existing ELPS gas infrastructure and enables relatively easy gas access with less pipeline infrastructure development cost
* Dedicated Power Plant, CPF, Petrochemical, Fertilizer and Methanol Plants
â–ª Centralized utilities provision, world class Integrated fibre optic network (broadband and telecoms)
Although this document was obtained from the NNPC website, it’s not clear the extent of effort to make it a reality.
AKK gas project is another robbery of the South – Ankio Briggs
I am aware just like most Nigerians are and also witnessed the commissioning by President Buhari. He left me with no doubt about the intention of the north and especially this government to continue with the old robbery of the south, especially the Niger Delta for the benefit of the north.
In the 1970s they started by building a refinery in Kaduna, laid pipes all the way from the Niger Delta to the place and stole our crude oil that was piped to Kaduna for refining. Unfortunately for them, and without assessing how far they have progressed in this cheating, the Kaduna refinery has been down for years. Yet they start another project to steal the natural gas this time.
I don’t care where the pipelines started, but what matters is that the people of Niger Delta and now the South East in addition are to face another round of robbery and exploitation, targeting natural gas and the hazards would be ours while they take the benefits as usual.
It’s most unfortunate that while President Goodluck Jonathan completed the laying of that trans-Nigeria gas pipeline from the Niger Delta and the South East up to Kano, this present government is so heartless that it isolated the activation for only the north, starting from Ajaokuta.
President Buhari in continuation of the pursuit of his segregative policy he announced from the beginning, carving Nigeria into 97% and 5%, never thought it proper to at least show a little kindness to the people the natural gas that will power the AKK project he commissioned would be tapped from their domain. He doesn’t pretend about his lack of feelings for us, not even once. It is the same region or regions that the trans-Sahara gas pipeline beyond Nigeria is to derive from.
Now the government has borrowed from China to implement this project, my fear is that the Niger Delta would be exploited continuously to offset that loan with its unknown and undisclosed conditions by China, a country its loan conditions remain questionable. We don’t know the duration of repayment and what the interest rate is to estimate the extent of exploitation. Buhari didn’t tell us and he has bypassed us, the owners of the resources, to activate the northern end of the national project.
This is the latest invasion of the Niger Delta and now the South East in addition, and before this, advance militant teams coming in various cover-up names had been drafted over time to our farmlands and bushes. They come and raid and kill and the target is that should there be any resistance from the exploited people, these terrorists all laid ambush in our bushes would be unleashed on our people to kill them off. So they are out to take everything with the highest form of force and brutality. It is a move not meant to favour us in anyway. They care not about our happiness and I can tell you that I am really worried, especially for the fact that our people are no longer speaking out. So I am afraid if they really know the meaning and intention of what is going on.
How else could one describe this gross injustice by this government that previous administrations handled the project to benefit all and right now at the activation, the South South and South East where the natural gas is sourced stand shortchanged and suppressed to make sure the north takes the benefits alone?
So the president and those that advise him on how to handle Nigeria are ok with creating economic opportunities for the north and sidelining the regions and areas the resources derive from.
To worsen the matter, the minister of state in charge of petroleum is Timipre Sylva, a Niger Delta man from Bayelsa. To him this injustice doesn’t count or the people denied also don’t count in the scheme of things in Nigeria because he as an individual is favoured.
Buhari never relented in executing his segregation of the 5% in denials in all facets, economic, social, infrastructure etc, even to the point of robbing them of their resources to feed the north.
About three years ago when the Niger Delta renewed its agitation against the unpretentious denial by Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came to Delta State and promised a gas power plant of about 180,000 cubic litres capacity that was meant to be the backbone of an industrial park in the area to serve as economic impetus to the people who have been over exploited for the benefit of the north and the Nigerian government.
His promise also included the construction of a major road to the denied peoples and places from Omadino to Escravos which would shore up the living standards of the people and open them up to economic possibilities. Till date, nothing has been said or done after that empty promise. Again, the same government is out for another robbery through this AKK gas pipeline.
Sylva as I mentioned earlier, Godswill Akpabio, the Minister for Niger Delta, Chibuike Amaechi, Minister for Transportation and other Niger Delta people serve in this same government and they cannot to tell Buhari that this ruthless denial won’t work, because the people may decide to say no tomorrow and that means the gas to feed the project won’t be there. That will be double loss to us since we would face the exploitation to repay the loan and possible raid and mass killing of our people by the bands of militants they have already stationed around us.
I need to remind our people that they have started playing a very disheartening role against their own people. There should be a point party politics stops and real interests are addressed as the northern politicians do for their region.