How terror killed $20Bn Ogidigben Gas Park project

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* Gov Okowa hobnobs with ‘new investors’, calls for re-start of project

* Insiders however warn that fraudsters parading round Delta State as investors may

   cause second shocker to Ogidigben dreams

* Expert gives inside hints on what went wrong what is needed

(Culled from BusinessDay, Reported By Ignatius Chukwu)

The shrill call in June 2018 by Gov Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State for resumption of action on the $20Bn Odidigben Industrial Gas Park project may have attracted reactions from several former insiders on the way forward or even backward.

Some have warned that the so-called ‘new investors’ parading round the corridors of government could be fraudsters who may break the hearts of the state government and the people of the state in the near future. Such insiders say they so-called investors cannot reactivate Odidigben no do they have what it takes to bring back the project.

Another set of insiders however have outlined what it may take to reactivate the dream but feared that Ogidigben’s reactivation is not anywhere possible in the immediate future, going by what happened and the facts on ground.

Gov Okowa had called for speedy take-off of the Ogidigben Industrial Gas Park, stating that the gas sector holds a lot of prospects for the economic development of the country.

Understanding Ogidigben project

Tagged the Gas Revolution Industrial Park (GRIP), Ogidigben, the project will cover 2700 hectares with fertilizer, methanol, petrochemicals, and aluminum plants located in the park that has already been designated as a Tax Free Zone by the federal government which is driving the project in conjunction with oil-producing communities in several states in the Niger Delta through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Under the plan presented to Okowa by the consortium to the Acting President, about $20Bn would be invested to develop the Gas Revolution Industrial Park, and generating 250,000 direct and indirect jobs in the process.

The industrial park would be a cluster for several industries in one location benefiting from an efficient, cost-competitive and abundant supply of natural gas, proximity to a deep sea port and centralized utilities, & services such as uninterrupted power, world class telecommunications and processed water, according to reports after the meeting with the governor in June, 2018.

The park, originally conceived by NNPC, is located about 60km from Warri, and is about one km away from the operational base of Chevron Nigeria Limited. It will be connected to over 18 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in fields such as Odidi, Okan, and Forcados, located within a 50km radius. It is equally planned that the park will be connected to Nigeria’s most dominant gas pipeline network-ELPS, enabling supply of gas to and from the park.

Terror:

Terror however reared up when the Ijaw and Itsekiri resurrected their age-old rivalry and warlords emerged to fight on each side. It was gathered that a prominent warlord who later won the heart of then president Goodluck Jonathan had threatened hellfire should Jonathan step on Ogidiggen soil. It was further gathered that a demand of $30m was made to allow the president come there and that the terror held up the groundbreaking until a huge amount in dollars was flown to the militant.

After the incident, the investors from Saudi Arabia allegedly fled, saying if private warlords held such power, the investment was not safe. Since then, Ogidigben went dead.

MCRIA to the rescue?

A researcher and lecturer in the Niger Delta University (NDU) in Wilberforce Island in Bayelsa State, Zibima Todenyefa PhD, has concluded a research and created a model that has revealed why Ogidigben and other mega projects in oil communities crash and how they can be handled better in future.  Called the Macro Conflict Risk Impact Assessment (MCRIA) tool, the researcher with the Stakeholders Network for Democracy (SDN) said the model would help bring back fleeing investments by resolving a critical question of bankability of project proposals which seeks to create engagement model for host communities.

Fresh hopes from Vice President’s office?

The Acting President (Vice president) was said to be keen on resolving whatever the bottleneck in the Ogidigben project was so that work could resume. The insiders however said this may have given rise to a flurry of actions and the descending of hawks. They said the VP’s office may have lost steam due to warnings and loss of confidence; hence, Ogidigben remains a lost dream.

Sources say the presence of the Delta State government and the office of the VP may have created the impression that action was being taken. The insiders wondered how this could be so, further wondering how any company would convince people they were going to raise up to $25Bn to put there. The source warned that those pushing the agenda may want to get government funds and disappear. They warned that some of the companies mentioned to come from China and South Korea are no investors; the one said to be from Dubai may merely be forex boutique operators with huge question marks.

One source further warned: “Ogidigben is fraud waiting to happen”.

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