L-R: Mr. Julius Rone (OFR) GMD, UTM Offshore Limited, Rt. Hon. Elder Sheriff Oborevwori, Governor of Delta State, Mr. Mele Kyari, GCEO NNPCL, and Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (GAS) Ekperikpe Ekpo after inking the dotted lines to seal the partnership.

UTM Offshore Limited, the Delta State Government, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) have inked a shareholder agreement (SHA) to jointly develop Nigeria’s first Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) plant.

Group Managing Director, Mr. Julius Rone (OFR), signed for UTM Offshore Limited; Secretary to the Delta State Government, Dr. Kingsley Emu, Solicitor-General; and Permanent Secretary to the Delta State Government, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Omamuzo Erebe, signed for the Delta State Government; while Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mele Kyari, signed for NNPC Limited.

With the agreement in place, the shareholding participation will have UTM Offshore Limited having 72% ownership, NNPC Limited with 20%, and the Delta State Government with 8% shareholding of the project.

Speaking at the signing ceremony at the NNPC Towers in Abuja, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State said the UTM FLNG Project was the first of its kind to be developed by an indigenous private company in Nigeria.

Governor Oborevwori explained that the state government took 8% equity in the floating LNG project because of its conviction of the strategic importance of the project to the national economy, adding that with 40% of Nigeria’s proven gas reserves in Delta State, it was a worthy investment.

According to him, the deal marked a significant milestone in the project’s development, expressing hope that construction will begin next year.

He said, “Of particular interest to the Delta State Government is the dividend that this UTM FLNG will generate, thus advancing the socio-economic development of our great state. Over 300,000 metric tonnes of LPG (cooking gas) are expected to be produced and dedicated to the domestic market.

“This project will also help to mitigate the environmental hazards in the Niger Delta by reducing gas flaring. Of course, our women folk will also benefit from the fuel switch from kerosene and firewood to cleaner energy, thus improving their health and general well-being.

“Another benefit we envisage with this project is that it will create job opportunities for our youths, which is one of the four pillars of our MORE agenda.”.

While commending the immediate past governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, for his foresight in investing in the venture, he also commended other stakeholders, “like regulators and Afreximbank, for helping to arrange the financing, and, of course, the dedicated staff of Delta State Investment and Development Agency (DIDA) for their resourcefulness.”.

In his remarks, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, commended the Delta State Governor for not just being a promoter of gas development in the country but for also investing in gas projects.

“We are happy to collaborate with the Delta State Government in this venture. The state government is here in two capacities, one as a supporter of growing gas utilization in the country and also now as an investor in this necessary but potentially valuable industry for all of us,” he added.

Also speaking, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), Hon. Ekprikpe Ekpo, noted that it was time for the country to begin the monetisation of its huge gas reserves for the development of the economy.

In his remarks, Group Managing Director of UTM, Mr. Julius Rone said the signing ceremony marks another significant milestone in actualizing Nigeria’s first indigenous FLNG.

Mr. Rone said he expects the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the project to be taken before the end of the first quarter of 2024. He commended the stakeholders for their support, especially the Delta State Government, for investing in the project.

“I want to thank the Delta State Government for taking equity in this laudable project, which will create other sources of revenue for the state to develop their infrastructure that is highly needed and create employment for the teeming youths of Delta State,” Rone said.