Nigeria’s LNG market shifts to Asia, Japan leads

With the discovery of shale gas in the United States, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) has shifted focus to Asia. Japan as one of its global biggest markets.

The Managing Director of NLNG, Babs Omotowa, said when the Nigeria LNG opened shop 15 years ago, US was one of its biggest markets, but with the discovery of shale gas, US didn’t need LNG and by 2008, the NLNG’s market share there dropped substantially, adding that at the moment, the US accounts for less than one percent of its market.

He said, “When we started off in 1999 to 2008, 35 per cent of our sales were to United States, while 65 per cent was to Europe. But in the last 10 years, the US has discovered shale gas and no longer needs LNG.

“From 2010 we were able to penetrate Japan. We were the first country to respond to Japan when it had a nuclear accident to provide them LNG.

“The trade has grown and Japan is one of our highest markets. Overall in Asia, we do about 48 per cent of our sales while 52 per cent to Europe. United States gets less than one per cent. We only send cargoes there once or twice in a year just to fulfill some obligations.”

He also said, NLNG is the fourth largest LNG plant in the world, and accounts for seven percent of the global LNG market and has the fourth largest. With the realities in the industry, Omotowa said the firm would be looking globally to maximise revenue and value for the country.

He said the NLNG is playing a significant part in achieving government’s aim to eliminate gas flaring, adding that between 1999 and 2015, it has converted 146 billion standard cubic meters (Bscm) or 5.16 trillion standard cubic feet (Tscf) of associated gas to export products, equivalent to more than 1864 LNG and NGL (natural gas liquids) cargoes, which otherwise would have been flared.

The NLNG chief said Nigeria is trending toward zero gas flaring, adding that “when we are through with the final investment decision (FID) of Trains 7&8, we will be able to consume some more of the gas being flared now just as we have consumed quite a lot of what was flared much before now. There is no gas flaring in Saudi Arabia as at today or flared at the barest minimum, because the gas is harnessed for petrochemical and other uses, so in Nigeria we need commitment by the government and all the stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to stop gas flaring.” 

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