BY AKAMANU JENNIFER
General Electric, a United States multinational company, proposed to invest in Nigeria’s three refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, as well as in selected power projects across the country.
In a presentation to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, in Abuja, GE stated that it and its teams of partners, including a consortium of engineering, procurement and construction partners, off-takers, traders and some financiers would be involved in the initiative.
GE is worth $493bn in assets and its business focus areas include oil and gas, power, water supply, aviation, health care, transportation and capital.
A statement from the NNPC quoted GE as stating, “We were involved in the tenders that started around last year, which were subsequently withdrawn but our commitment to bringing the refineries on stream is still very deep and we are very serious about it.
“We propose that work commences either with the Warri or Port Harcourt refinery as a pilot, as we set a target to improve the refining capacity before the end of 2017.”
GE’s desire to work with the NNPC on the rehabilitation of the three refineries came on the heels of a similar proposal by the Italian company, Eni, to establish cooperation with the national oil firm for the rehabilitation and enhancement of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, GE, Jeff Immelt, who led the firm’s delegation to the NNPC, said as part of the offering, both parties had identified some major national power projects in the country and were currently developing the scope of intervention in the projects, which have a potential combined capacity of about 4.4 gigawatts.
The firm further pledged its readiness to work with the NNPC to make crude oil production in the offshore fields profitable for the benefit of both parties and other stakeholders, expressing its readiness to consolidate on the existing working relationship with the corporation to expand the power business.
Baru expressed delight in the interest GE had in some vital operational areas of the corporation.
He noted that GE’s offer of a package that included project financing would greatly improve collaboration and initiate the power projects rapidly.
The NNPC GMD also welcomed the firm’s offer for support to boost the nation’s offshore production and raise the crude oil reserve ratio replacement, urging the company to also tap into the opportunities on offer in medical supplies as the NNPC moves to commercialise the services of its 52 hospitals and clinics spread across the country in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, GE on Tuesday continued negotiations with the Federal Government for the concession of the country’s narrow gauge rail lines to the firm.
Officials of GE, led by Immelt, met with the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and his team at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja, where they discussed further on the project.
After the meeting, Amaechi told journalists that GE would take over the narrow gauge rail lines if the negotiations were fruitful.
He said, “We are negotiating with GE to take over the narrow gauge rail lines. The narrow gauge is from Lagos to Kano, Funtua, Zungeru and others. Then from Port Harcourt to Borno, heading to Yobe. Those are the old narrow gauge lines that you see.
“I don’t know much it will cost, we have to evaluate it. Initially, I think it was $2bn; but now, we can’t say whether it is $2bn or above until we finish negotiations. We are still talking and you can only say it is a deal when we have finished negotiating. So, we are still at the level of talking.”
The minister added that the government had employed transaction advisers who were negotiating on its behalf, adding that a clearer statement would be made once the negotiations were concluded.
On the coach to be used on the facility, the minister said the government enquired from GE if it would be able to revive up to 25 coaches between now and when it would take over the lines.
“We are saying that between now and when that will happen, can they revive the 25 coaches that we have in order to get them work efficiently? We want to see if they can maintain them and put them back to use so as to increase the capacity of the Nigeria Railway Corporation and enable people travel from Lagos to Kano and from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri,” Amaechi said.
The minister also stated that the coaches were supplied by GE several years ago and had been on ground since the administration of the late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
The Managing Director, NRC, Mr. Fidet Okhiria, said the concession of the narrow gauge lines was advertised and that five companies applied for it.
“The concession exercise is open; we advertised and as of yesterday (Monday), five companies applied and GE is one of them. So, the companies will be assessed based on the pre-concession requirements,” he stated.
Okhiria, however, could not give the names of the other four companies that submitted bids for the project.