The Federal Government has commenced a 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 LNG carriers.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who chaired the kick-off meeting, hinted that the project would be executed by China Harbour Engineering, which had carried out similar tasks 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, Sylva said the Nigeria LNG’s Train 7 project is expected to increase its Liquefied Natural Gas capacity from 22 metric tonnes yearly (MTPA) to 30MTPA, and induce the acquisition of additional LNG carriers to the existing ones, 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 a 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, Simbi Wabote, assured that the Brass shipyard project and other ongoing efforts to catalyze manufacturing, will help the Board achieve 70 percent Nigerian Content target 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 mentioned that Nigeria has a long coastline of 853 kilometres and navigable inland waterways of 3,000 kilometres, 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 the Nigerian waters, with an annual spend of over $600million in the upstream sector.
Providing more statistics, he stated: “The oil sector spent $3.047billion on marine vessels between 2014 and 2018, and 73 percent of the total spend 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 regretted that most of the vessels that operate in the oil industry are taken to Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroun, and other countries for dry docking, because the local dry docks were built many years ago and no longer provide the required services.
Wabote also listed the objectives of NCDMB’s Marine Vessel Strategy to include, promotion of indigenous ownership, increased participation and increased capacity of local shipyards to build, service & maintain marine vessels of various sizes and manufacturing of vessel components and consumables in-country, among many others.