FG, China Begin Construction of Brass Shipyard

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Timipre Sylva

• Project to reduce capital flight, aid local content

By Emmanuel Addeh

The federal government weekend said it has begun a feasibility study for the construction of a shipyard in Brass Island, Bayelsa State, which will be ready in six months to cater for the maintenance and repair services of cargo vessels, oil tankers and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) carriers.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who chaired the project’s kick-off meeting stated that it will be executed by China Harbour Engineering Company, which had carried out similar projects across the globe as well as in Nigeria.

The feasibility study will be funded by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) as part of its overarching mandate to domicile key oil and gas industry infrastructure and increase retention of industry spend.

The scope of the feasibility study includes geotechnical and bathymetric surveys, conducting a market study, ascertaining an optimal construction scale, developing technical proposal and construction plan and estimation of the required investment to bring the project into reality.

According to the minister, the high traffic of vessels in and out of Nigeria provides a huge opportunity to retain substantial value in-country through the provision of dry-dock services.

He said the shipyard project would further develop and harness the nation’s position in the oil and gas value chain and linkage to other sectors of the economy.

Dwelling on the prospects of the shipyard project, Sylva hinted that the Nigeria LNG’s Train 7 project is expected to increase the company’s Liquefied Natural Gas capacity from 22MTPA to 30MTPA and induce the acquisition of additional LNG carriers to the existing ones, all of which would need maintenance and servicing.

He added that the project would also benefit from the upcoming implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as Nigeria could serve as hub for ship building and repairs.

He expressed confidence that the outcomes of the feasibility study and subsequent construction and operation of the shipyard will create employment opportunities and contribute to poverty reduction in line with the aspirations of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.

In his presentation, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, assured the audience that the Brass shipyard project and other ongoing efforts to catalyse manufacturing would help the board achieve the target of 70 per cent Nigerian content by 2027.

He confirmed that the project was being driven by the NCDMB in conjunction with NLNG as a Capacity Development Initiative (CDI) on the back of the Train 7 project.

He stated that Nigeria has a long coastline of 853 kilometres and navigable inland waterways of 3,000 kilometres, which offer immense potential for the maritime sector development, stressing that Brass coastline is very close to the Atlantic Ocean.

Wabote further explained that there ”are over 20,000 ships working for the oil and gas sector in Nigerian waters and the annual spend was over $600 million in the upstream sector”.

Providing more statistics, the NCDMB boss stated that the oil sector spent $3.047 bllion on marine vessels between 2014 and 2018 and 73 per cent of the total spent went to crew boats, security vessels, diving support vessels and fast supply intervention vessels.

Other vessels in that category include mooring launch and shallow draft vessels, he said.

He regretted that most of the vessels that operate in the oil industry are taken to Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and other countries for dry docking because our local dry docks were built many years ago and no longer provide the required services.

The Executive Secretary also listed the objectives of NCDMB’s marine vessel strategy to include promotion of indigenous ownership, increase participation and increase capacity of local shipyards to build, service and maintain marine vessels of various sizes and manufacturing of vessel components and consumables in-country.

Other objectives of the marine strategy, he said, are to give first consideration to Nigerian built or owned vessels for contract award and job offers, discourage capital flight, generate employment and increase retention of industry spends and stimulate value creation.

The project’s schedule indicates that the site work would be executed within six months, while feasibility study would be completed in four months.