Businessmen are prophets of enterprise. They are the illustrious popes of commerce, robed and mitred in the resonance of their exploits. More often than not, they rise through the fog and the fire of enterprise to tower in dominion astride chains of businesses and industry.
Consider the Nigerian magnate, Julius Rone, the head honcho of UTM FLNG, for instance; he starts out as a champion of trade, constantly battling the odds to protect the franchise he creates. Thus he has the same fundamental psychology as the artist or inventor. He sets himself to certain tasks and the work absorbs, becoming an expression of his depth and persona.
He understands that there is no better ballast for keeping the mind steady on its keel, and saving it from the risk of lethargy, than business. Thus he lives to the growth and perfection of enterprise as reflected in his exploits.
Yes, Rone is a builder and creator, a merchant of industry, and a mature economic juggernaut. Ultimately, his enterprise thrives on a stable and undisturbed grassland as the ideal for qualitative growth—fecund, abundant, and dynamic, mature yet highly evolved.
Interestingly, however, Rone has done it again! He has signed a multibillion-dollar partnership with KBR, JGC Corporation, and Technip Energies to design Nigeria’s first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility.
As Julius Rone signed the deal with his beautiful wife, Yutee Rone, the Petroleum Minister, Chief Timipre Sylva, Ambassador Sharafa Isola, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and others watched from behind, grinning in apparent satisfaction.
The high-octane event had who is who in the oil and gas sector in attendance. The likes of Steve Bra n, Head of LNG Origination, Vitol, Engr Farouk Ahmed, Authority Chief Executive, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Mr. Tadashi Ishizuka, , President JGC Holdings, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, Commision Chief Executive Oficer, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commision (NUPRC), Marco Vila, Chief Operating Oficer, Technip Energies Ltd., Engr. Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. Paul Bailie, Vice President, Leterhead Operations, KBR, Alhaji Abdulkabir Ahmed, Executive Vice President, Gas, Power and New Energies, NPC Lmited- Profesor Benedict Okey Ormah, President African Export Import Bank (AfreximBank), Igho Sanomi, CEO Taleveras Group, billionaire businessman Mr Sholaye Jeremi, Mr Raymond Abia and so many others numerous to mention.
Indeed, the city of London virtually transformed into the revel dome of the earth, a pleasant trove for all good tidings for all the guests at the signing ceremony. Not for a long while will the, Victorian city of London snap out of its thrall. The deal was signed on yesterday, Wednesday, November 16, for the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) of UTM’s natural gas project, which when completed will be Nigeria’s first FLNG plant.The latest effort comes nearly a year after UTM inked a memorandum of understanding with Afreximbank to finance $2 billion in order to create an opportunity to support a future final investment decision on the FLNG project.
With the recent FEED contract, UTM will move the FLNG project from the fundraising stage to the implementation phase and will continue working with NNPC Limited and ExxonMobil to expedite the development, exploitation, and monetization of stranded gas resources. The project’s completion will ensure energy security, access to energy, and clean cooking gas in Nigeria, the region, and beyond, as Europe seeks alternate gas suppliers as the bloc diversifies energy sources away from Russia due to the Ukraine conflict.
With the first production from the $1.8 billion FLNG facility expected before 2027, UTM Offshore’s FLNG project will usher in a new age of LNG sector expansion in Nigeria and around the region as energy demand rises.Julius Rone, CEO of UTM Offshore, stated that Nigeria, with its vast gas reserves, is well positioned to increase its supply to Europe, and that UTM’s FLNG facility will be an enabler of industry expansion and Nigeria’s best practice in addressing critical gas industry challenges.
Interestingly, with the signed contract, the development of the FLNG facility in block OML 204 offshore Nigeria will kick off, enabling the west African country to maximize the exploitation of stranded gas resources in a sustainable manner while contributing to the Nigerian government’s agenda of reducing flaring and optimizing environmental sustainability in energy developments, according to Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Nigeria, in a speech made during the signing ceremony of the contract.
According to the minister, “It is an honor and a rare privilege to be part of this epoch gathering to witness the signing ceremony of the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) contract between UTM Floating LNG Limited, JGCcorporation, Technip Energies (T.EN) and KellogBrown & Root (KBR) Engineering Companies for the development of the first Floating Liquified Natural Gas (“FLNG”) Facility In Nigeria
”We are here today because UTM Offshore Limited was granted a License to Establish (LTE) by the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) now Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) for the installation of a Floating LNG unit on oil mining lease (OML) 104 in February 2021. Following the signing of the Pre-Front End Engineering Design (Pre-FEED) contract to start the development of the 176 million cubic feet per day FLNG facility, the Federal Government expressed optimism about improved earnings from our gas monetisation scheme.We are also elated that the UTM Offshore FLNG will be the first of such a project developed by an African company on the continent even as it will also significantly contribute to the Nigerian government’s agenda of reducing the flaring of associated gas across our industry”.
“But first, I bring you greetings from the good people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”), let me use this opportunity to congratulate the leadership and management of UTM FLNG Limited under the able and dogged leadership of the Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Julius Dediare Rone. Let me also use this opportunity to once again congratulate Mr. Julius with the honour accorded him by President Muhammadu Buhari, with the conferment of the National Honours Award in the rank of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic – OFR on October 11, 2022.
“However, with factors such as a lack of investment, transportation and export infrastructure, and technological challenges disrupting Nigeria from maximizing its gas industry, the FLNG project is a step forward in the right direction for the west African country to develop, exploit and monetize its over 209 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven gas resources and a potential upside of 600 tcf of gas to ensure energy security, economic growth and the reduction in emissions.
“Given the large resources that may be developed and used for commercial purposes, we have already proclaimed that gas is our transition fuel and a destination fuel, and we anticipate that it will be a major component of our energy mix by the year 2060,” added Minister Sylva, adding that, “As a developing nation, we believe that affordable, accessible and reliable energy will continue to be essential to sustaining and powering our growing economy, and to lift millions out of poverty. As a government we know our action is essential to enable evolution of the energy system. We believe innovation, technology and policy will be the key drivers of change.”
Highlighting the role of FLNG technology in accelerating gas exploitation, the Minister added that “We are aware that the number of offshore gas finds has surged in recent years around the world, with LNG and FLNG becoming even more important in terms of satisfying the world’s future energy needs. According to market research analysts, the FLNG market is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.14%, reaching $88.99 billion by 2024. The UTM offshore FLNG project is therefore timely and will lead towards a faster-moving, more diverse and more flexible global LNG industry.”
He also gave reference to some of the mechanisms and policy reforms including the Decade of Gas, The Year of Gas and the Petroleum Industry Act implemented by the government to create an enabling environment to expand the country’s gas industry and ensure a just and inclusive energy transition.
Speaking on how Nigeria can fast track gas developments, meet its 2030 economic growth targets and growing energy demand, create jobs and bring new investments on the back of gas exploitation, the minister also highlighted the importance of collaborative partnership, commending the “African Export-Import Bank, under the leadership of its amiable President and Chairman, Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, for orchestrating the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UTM Offshore Limited to raise $5 billion for the development of Nigeria’s first FLNG project.”
Julius Dediare Rone, CEO and Chairman of UTM Offshore, who was awarded the National Honors Award in the Rank of Order of the Federal Republic – OFR on October 11, 2022 by H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari for his leading role in driving Nigeria’s gas sector expansion, added that gas and FLNG will play a crucial role in helping the Nigerian government to meet its three priorities, namely, “security of supply, economic competitiveness, and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to Rone, “We opted for FLNG because FLNG was originally developed to help realize the promise of natural gas – specifically, to bring gas to the global market from small offshore fields and nearshore terminals in areas lacking infrastructure – especially pipelines. And the LNG market is stuck with traditional models that do not address the world’s demand for low cost, flexible LNG to become a preferred fuel-of-choice over coal and liquids. The world markets as we all know it today need low-cost, flexible LNG supply and has limited capacity to underpin major conventional projects. The solution, UTM offshore believes, is a standardized FLNG that allows the costs to be 20-40% cheaper with FID thresholds of just 1.5 – 2.5 MTPA. And this is where the UTM offshore FLNG project will hold sway, having the desired impact as well as influence.”
Commenting on Africa’s gas and FLNG market trends, NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, reiterated that “Gas is green for Africa and crucial for driving socioeconomic development and for making energy poverty history across the continent. “The Chamber commends the work being undertaken by UTM Offshore and its development and investment partners such as the Afreximbank. At African Energy Week, we took a strong position to drive up African gas deals and this is one of them that we support. We believe African solutions and companies will be crucial for unlocking the full potential of the continent’s massive gas resources to ensure energy security and revive industrialisation.”