By Bayo Bernard
The enthusiasm that greeted the multi-billion dollar Egina Floating Production Storage Offloading, FSPO vessel has recently been dwarfed by revelation that fabricating steel materials used for the project were not sourced locally.
The $16b FSPO is being developed by French company TOTAL, at the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 130, in partnership with Nigeria’s indigenous oil and gas servicing company, Lagos Deep Offshore Logistic Base (LADOL.)
Keen stakeholders in the oil and gas sector had at a forum organized in Lagos by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN frowned at the discovery that a world class project like Egina could be constructed without input from Nigeria’s steel sector.
According to the Executive Secretary of Nigeria’s Content Development Monitoring Board, NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, sourcing steel locally for the project would have prevented millions of dollars in capital flight, apart from creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs.
Experts in steel and construction sector told the magazine that at least $100m must have been spent to procure steel for the gigantic project
The shocking revelation came amidst plans by the Federal government to revamp the nation’s steel manufacturing sector.
According to statistics sourced by the magazine from the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria, MAN, the value of Nigeria’s importation of steel stands at a minimum of US$3billion dollars in annually.
The President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has recently indicated more than a passing interest in the Ajaokuta Steel Manufacturing company in Kogi state as part of its plan to overhaul the steel manufacturing sector.
There are more than 10 steel companies in the country.
Presidency sources told the magazine that Nigeria has witnessed a focused commitment to revive the country’s abandoned industrial projects since President Buhari came to power in 2015.
According to experts, the steel industry must be fully harnessed as part of efforts to develop the manufacturing sector.
The managing Director of LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, had disclosed that Egina will bring huge economic benefits to Nigeria.
The Total’s FPSO, Dr. Jadesimi said has given Nigeria a rare opportunity to further grow its human capital and improve in technological know-how, no less, open more windows of opportunities for engineering and fabrication.
But stakeholders insist that the local content angle must have been ignored to the detriment of the nation’s economy, though they absolved LADOL of any blame, insisting that the firm is not a policy arm of the federal government.
According to some experts who spoke with the magazine over the matter, the federal government should have made it mandatory for the investors to procure a huge percentage of steel requirements of Egina from Nigeria.
The benefit of such, other experts insist, includes ejection of the badly needed foreign capital into the steel sector, a la the economy as a whole, apart from other multiplier effects.
Nwabuchi Okorie, an oil and gas expert told the magazine that Nigerian authorities should make policies that will provide employment locally rather than export jobs abroad.