President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the relocation of the LADOL Free Trade Zone (FTZ) project in Lagos to Agga in Balyesa State, two weeks to the end of his tenure.
The relocation order if allowed to stand, according to findings, will cause the Lagos State government to lose a $500 million investment in oil and gas as well as over 50,000 job opportunities the project would have created after its completion in 2019.
The project, which has so far gulped $300 million, is said to have reached an advanced stage before Jonathan directed that it be relocated from Lagos to Bayelsa, his home state.
The project is on a joint partnership arrangement between LADOL Integrated Logistics Enterprises and Samsung Heavy Industries, Korea. The two companies are expected to build fabrication and integration yards for the Egina Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) facility for the use of local and foreign-owned oil companies.
Jonathan’s directive to relocate the project was conveyed in two letters dated April 27, 2015 signed by Engineer AB Mohammed, a General Manager at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The letters, signed on behalf of the new NPA Managing Director, Sanusi Ado Bayero, said: “Please be informed that Mr President has vide PRES/99/MT/2/22 of April 20th, 2015 approved the FPSO project to be relocated to Agga in Bayelsa State when the facilities to handle such operations are developed. In additional, the project can be conveniently located at any designated oil and gas terminal. Please be informed that Mr President has approved that henceforth, all oil and gas related cargoes must be handled only in the designated terminals in Onne, Warri and Calabar ports.
“In view of this, vessels coming to Nigeria with oil and gas related cargoes excluding petroleum products are advised to first go to the appropriate concessioned terminals to be cleared by the Customs and other relevant authorities, terminal operators and shipping firms’.
Many stakeholders have expressed dismay over the President’s action.
Managing Director, LADOL Integrated Logistics Enterprises, Dr. Amy Jadesimi faulted the directive, saying it would deal a severe blow on the project partners.
According to her, the directive is ill conceived, diversionary and capable of destroying the gains made by the partners.
She said the directive was part of efforts to destroy potential local operators that are bent on deepening their participation in the oil and gas sector.
Jadesimi said efforts were being made by oil and gas operators to build one of the biggest floating vessels in the world and make Nigeria the oil and gas hub in West Africa, adding that nothing would frustrate that effort.
“We got the two letters the same day – a day after the appointment of the new MD of NPA. I want to make it clear that we (LADOL) do not have problems with the NPA because they are using our facility. NPA has office in LADOL Free Trade Zone. NPA had on several occasions said we (LADOL) are the largest private investors in its facility. By the end of 2007, LADOL would have invested $500million in NPA facility. Technically, it is not appropriate for the project to be relocated to Bayelsa”, she said.
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