The federal government has commenced feasibility study for the construction of a shipyard in Brass Island, Bayelsa State, which would cater for the maintenance and repair services of cargo vessels, oil tankers, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) carriers.
The Minister of State for Petrolem Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who chaired a meeting on the project recently, stated that it would be executed by China Harbour Engineering Company, which had carried out similar projects across the globe as well as in Nigeria.
According to a statement by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), the feasibility study would be funded by the 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 was expected to increase the company’s LNG capacity from 22 metric tons per annum to 30 metric tons per annum, and induce the acquisition of additional LNG carriers to the existing ones, all of which would need maintainance 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 that the Brass shipyard project and other ongoing efforts to catalyze manufacturing would help the board achieve the target of 70 percent 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 said Nigeria has a long coastline of 853 kilometers and navigable inland waterways of 3,000 kilometers, which offer immense potential for maritime sector development, stressing that Brass coastline, was 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 executive secretary stated that the oil sector spent $3.047 billion on marine vessels between 2014 and 2018, adding that 73 per cent of the total amount spent went to crew boats, security vessels, diving support vessels and fast supply intervention vessels. He said other vessels in that category included mooring launch and shallow draft vessels.