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As Mozambique inches closer to its ambition of becoming a leader in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG)industry, the East African country looks set to upending Nigeria’s share of the high-demand Asian markets as it makes inroads into the region.
Last week, Anadarko Petroleum, the primary operator of Mozambique’s Rovuma Offshore Area 1,which is estimated to hold more than 65 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas, said it had sold twothirds of the capacity of its planned Mozambique LNG project to Asian customers and hopes to have the rest sold soon.
To develop massive LNG projects, financiers often require customers to be lined up well in advance.
Analysts believe that the Mozambique’s proximity to Asia is likely to stand it in good stead for LNG exports as it presents a veritable alternative for Asian buyers.
“East Africa, in particular Mozambique, could be a new hotspot in LNG exports due to its recent large offshore discoveries,” said British maritime classification society, Lloyd’s Register, in its ‘Global Marine Trends 2030’ report.
LNG, gas chilled to liquid form for sea transport, is a key fuel source and many Asian nations have been hungry to find steady sources.
“If things go well in Mozambique, it may well end up being the second largest LNG exporter in the world after Qatar and overtaking Australia. Large consumers of gas are already present there – like India – or seeking a toehold like the Thais and now even the Chinese. Shell, the largest LNG player globally is keen to step in,” said Niraj Mansingka, an oil and gas analyst at Edelweiss, according to Rigzone.
Whither Nigeria’s Brass LNG?
Brass LNG project was designed to produce 10 million metric tonnes of LNG per year, with the final investment decision (FID) initially planned for 2006. But it was later rescheduled for 2008 and then 2010.
It was expected to happen in 2012 and then last year, but it has yet to be taken by the shareholders, which include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Total and Eni Group. ConocoPhillips withdrew from the project in 2012.
The withdrawal of ConocoPhillips in 2012 is among the factors hindering the existing stakeholders in the project from taking the FID on the project. Oando Plc, which is acquiring ConocoPhillips’ Nigerian assets, had in September last year terminated its purchase of the US oil firm’s stake in the Brass LNG plant.
The need to sell the stake to a new buyer may have led to the postponement of the FID on the project last year.
Ecobank Research in its Energy, Oil & Gas report on October 7, 2013, says although there is significant interest from some Asian national oil companies in the gas project, concerns around the economics of these LNG projects are starting to dampen buyer enthusiasm.
It states that the economics of LNG plants in the Gulf of Guinea have been significantly affected by the growth of the shale gas sector in the United States of America and emergence of a comparable gas region in size offshore East Africa.
“Furthermore, uncertainties around government policy and involvement have further affected these LNG projects and sparked withdrawal by key partners.
“If a new buyer is not secured in time for an FID by 2014/2015 to enable completion of the plant by 2018, the likelihood that the project would secure patronage from Asia is significantly reduced. By then LNG projects in East Africa and Australia could be on-stream to meet Asia’s gas demand,” the report says.
The offtake of the output from the Brass LNG is targeted at markets in Western Europe and Asia.
Promoters of Brass LNG still working In what signals progress for the Brass LNG, the promoters of the project are considering a restructure of the project such that the commitment from each existing stakeholder to the project may be increased as the exit of ConocoPhillips continues to stall the progress of the project, BusinessDay West Africa Energy has learnt.
An industry source who is close to the project told BusinessDay West Africa Energy that the promoters are also negotiating a new licensing agreement with ConocoPhillips to enable them continue the use of its Optimised Cascade Technology on the project.
The new agreement became necessary since the United States-based group is no longer a shareholder in the project. According to the source, the promoters would pay certain fees to ConocoPhillips upon the conclusion of the agreement.
“The withdrawal by ConocoPhillips has been a major challenge as it is their Optimised Cascade Technology that is in use for the project,” the source said. “Pre-Front End Engineering and Design (Pre-FEED) has been conducted
taking the Cascade technology into consideration. Front End Engineering and Design has also been done taking that technology into consideration.
Not that the technology was used though, but was taken into consideration. The technology is referred to as the ConocoPhillips Optimised Cascade LNG Process.”
Also, in a bid to ensure sufficient gas supply for the Brass LNG, Chevron has reportedly submitted a development project for non-associated gas on Oil Mining Lease (OML) 85, 86 and 88 to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), aimed at merging production on the gas fields of Funiwa, North Apoi, Okunbe, Pennington, North Chioma and Middleton.
The Brass LNG, which includes two liquefaction trains with a capacity of 5 million tonnes per year each, requires supplies of 11.7 Tcf to be profitable. Eni is expected to supply 4.7 Tcf from its OML 60, 61, 62 and 63 and Total 3.6 Tcf.
Analysts speak “Nigeria need to accelerate negotiation with LNG partners for the Brass LNG and Olokola LNG, as well as the next train for Bonny,” said Wumi Iledare, president of International Association for Energy Economics and director of Emerald Energy Institute, University of Port Harcourt, stressing the need to pass a progressive Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with a well-articulated fiscal regime for gas.
Claire Lawrie, head of oil and gas advisory for Africa, Ernst & Young, noted that the LNG industry is everevolving, impacted by macroeconomic fundamentals and technology evolution, saying Nigeria needs to tighten up a lot of loose ends such as delayed projects, among others.
“In addition to fast-tracking gas projects, Nigeria has to continue its push to stop gas flaring, not only from a health and environmental perspective, but also because it is burning cash which in turn is affecting the nations LNG market,” she said, adding that the rise in shale gas in the United States (US) has been stalling new LNG projects in Nigeria.
Akin Adetunji, executive vice chairman, Terra Energy Services Nigeria Limited said the best option for Nigeria is to intensify efforts to attract long-term buyers, adding that LNG ventures are planned on an agreed supply to customers on long-term basis minimum of which is 15 years.