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Blackout Looms as Explosion Rocks Escravos Gas Pipeline Again

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  • Blackout Looms as Explosion Rocks Escravos Gas Pipeline Again

Power generation in the country may have hit a fresh snag following the explosion that ruptured the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline on Thursday, even as generation from hydropower plants dropped by 494 megawatts in six days.

There was pandemonium as a heavy explosion rocked the pipeline criss-crossing the Ugbokodo community near the Warri refinery in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State.

The incident, which sources said occurred around 4am, forced residents of the community to scamper for safety in the bushes when they discovered that the inferno that resulted from the explosion was advancing towards their homes.

It was gathered that some residents, including children, who fled into the bushes, were still missing as of 4:30pm when one of our correspondents left the community.

Investigation revealed that the explosion was as a result of leaks from a gas pipeline in the community, which had earlier been reported to the management of the NGC.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, repair work commenced immediately on the facility in order to address the fresh incident.

The NNPC, however, did not state what caused the fresh explosion on the pipeline.

It took the combined efforts of the men of the fire services of the NGC and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company as well as other agencies to put out the fire at about 8am.

No life was lost in the incident, which created panic among residents of the area.

Residents of the community who later protested the development accused the management of the NGC of negligence as the community had reported the malfunctioning pipeline to its Ekpan-Warri office without any action being taken.

The protesters led by the Unuevworo of Ugbokodo community, Chief Tobore Ajisha, alleged that the explosion could have been avoided if the leaking pipeline was immediately fixed when members of the community reported the leakage to NGC officials in writing.

Ajisha stated that the community also placed a call to the management of the Nigeria Gas Processing and Transporting Company when the explosion occurred but the firm allegedly refused to act quickly until the inferno gathered momentum.

Efforts to speak with the NGC’s spokesman in the Warri area office, Violin Antaih, were unsuccessful as calls and SMS sent across to him were not unanswered and not replied.

But confirming the explosion, the Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, said he had yet to get a full briefing on the development as of the time he was contacted.

This is coming four days after the resumption of gas supply to six power plants – Egbin (Lagos), Omotosho I and II (Ondo), and Olorunsogo I and II and Paras Energy (Ogun) – after the completion of the repair work on the pipeline, which was damaged by a fire incident last week.

The plants did not generate any megawatts of electricity for four straight days until Monday when the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System, which supplies gas to them, came back on stream.

The nation generates most of its electricity from gas-fired power plants, while output from hydropower plants makes up about 30 per cent of the total generation.

Total electricity generation, which fell slightly to 3,517.5MW as of 6am on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 (the morning after the grid collapse caused by the pipeline fire), rose to 4,102.3MW on Wednesday.

Unutilised generation capacity occasioned by gas constraint dropped to 1,018.7MW as of 6am on Wednesday from 3,133.3MW last Friday, according to the latest data obtained by our correspondents on Sunday from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

But the combined generation from Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro hydro plants, which rose by 580MW to 1,212MW on January 3 and offset most of the losses caused by the shutdown of the six power plants, dropped to 718MW on Wednesday.

Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro generated 370MW, 148MW and 200MW, respectively on Wednesday, from 339MW, 445MW and 428MW on January 3, the data showed.

Jebba did not generate electricity on Monday as five of its units (2G1 to 5) were said to have tripped due to loss of auxiliary supply and 2G6 out due to burnt generator winding and automatic voltage regulator.

Electricity generation from Egbin, the nation’s biggest power station, stood at 398MW as of 6am on Wednesday, compared to 561MW on January 2.

Seven out of the nation’s 28 power plants did not generate any megawatt as of 6am on Wednesday, compared to 14 last Friday. The plants are Sapele I, Alaoji II, Olorunsogo II, Azura-Edo, AES, ASCO, and Trans-Amadi.

When contacted to find out if the fresh damage at ELPS had affected generation at Egbin, a source told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that the plant was still generating electricity.

“Egbin is on as we speak and we are still generating. If we start noticing any drop in pressure, we will let you know. We are generating close to 400MW now,” he said.

On January 2 this year, the downstream section of the Escravos to Lagos Pipeline System was razed by a bush fire 2 at Abakila, in Ondo State, a development that led to widespread blackout as gas supply to six power plants was stalled.

The earlier fire incident had affected gas supply to customers in Ondo, Ogun and Lagos, with the subsequent shutdown of some power plants with a combined generating capacity of 1,143MW.

But on Thursday, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, announced another explosion on the facility.

He, however, stated that the corporation’s Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, had directed that repair works be executed immediately on the part of the ELP that was ruptured by the fresh explosion along Egbokodo-Omadino so as to restore supplies from Escravos.

Baru further directed that gas supply from other sources like Oben, Oredo, Sapele, Ughelli and Utorogu be stepped up to augment any shortfall, as repair works had commenced on the pipeline.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

FIRS Sets N5.9 Trillion Revenue Target for 2021

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FIRS to Generate N5.9 Trillion Revenue  in 2021

Mohammed Nami, the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, on Friday said the agency is projecting total revenue of N5.9 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year.

Nami stated this while meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Finance led by Hon. James Falake on the Service’s 2021 budget defence of its proposed Revenue and Expenditure Estimates.

According to the Chairman, N4.26 trillion and N1.64 trillion were expected to come from non-oil and oil components, respectively.

However, Nami put the cost of collecting the projected revenue at N289.25 billion or 7 percent of the proposed total revenue for the year, higher than the N180.76 billion spent in 2020 to fund the three operational expenditure heads for the year.

He said: “Out of the proposed expenditure of N289.25 billion across the three expenditure heads, the sum of N147.08 billion and N94.97 billion are to be expended on Personnel and Overhead Costs against 2020 budgeted sum of N97.36 billion and N43.64 billion respectively. Also, the sum of N47.19 billion is estimated to be expended on capital items against the budgeted sum of N27.80 billion in 2020. The sum is to cater for on-going and new projects for effective revenue drive.

Speaking on while the agency failed to meet its 2020 target, Nami said “There’s lockdown effect on businesses, implementation directive also for us to study, research best practices on tax administration which involves travelling to overseas and we also have to expand offices and create offices more at rural areas to get closer to the taxpayers, we pay rent for those offices and this could be the reason why all these things went up.

“And if you have more staff surely, their salary will go up, taxes that you’re going to pay on their behalf will go up, the National Housing Fund contribution, PENCOM contribution will go up. Those promoted you have to implement a new salary regime for them. There’s also the issue of inflation and exchange rate differential”, he said.

 

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Economy

Gov Emmanuel Attracts $1.4b Fertilizer Plant to Akwa Ibom

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The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has signed an agreement for the citing of a multi billion fertilizer plant in his State.

Governor Emmanuel was part of a Nigerian delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, that visited Morocco to set out the next steps of the $1.4 Bln fertilizer production plant project launched in June 2018.

The agreement between the OCP Africa, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and the Akwa Ibom State Government will birth one of the biggest investments in the fertilizer production industry worldwide.

The signing ceremony took place at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UMP6).

Mr. Emmanuel signed one of the agreements of the partnership, which covers a memorandum of understanding between OCP Africa, the Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria and the NSIA on land acquisition, administrative facilitation, and common agricultural development projects in the Akwa Ibom State.

Speaking while signing the agreement, Governor Emmanuel said, “Our state is receptive to investments and we are prepared to offer the necessary support to make the project a reality.

“With a site that is suitably located to enable operational logistics and an abundance of gas resources, all that is left is for the parties to accelerate the project development process”, Mr. Udom said.

The agreement reached between the Nigerian Government and the OCP further links OCP, Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), the NNPC, the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN), and the NSIA.

The two partners agreed to strengthen further their solid partnership leveraging Nigerian gas and the Moroccan phosphate.

This project will lead to a multipurpose industrial platform in Nigeria, which will use Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate to produce 750,000 tons of ammonia and 1 million tons of phosphate fertilizers annually by 2025.

The visit of the Nigerian delegation to Morocco takes place within the frame of the partnership sealed between OCP Group and the Nigerian Government to support and develop Nigeria’s agriculture industry.

Following the success of the first phase of Nigeria‘s Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and the progress of the fertilizer production plant project launched in 2018 by OCP and NSIA, the Moroccan phosphates group and the Nigerian government delegation have agreed on the next steps of their joint project which is rapidly taking shape.

Several cooperation agreements were inked on Tuesday at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) by OCP Africa and the Nigerian delegation. Through these deals, OCP reaffirms its unwavering support of agricultural development initiatives in Nigeria including PFI.

OCP Africa and the NSIA have agreed, inter alia, to set up a joint venture which will oversee the development of the industrial platform that will produce ammonia and fertilizers in Nigeria.

The OCP has also pledged to supply Nigerian famers with quality fertilizers adapted to the needs of their soil at competitive prices and produced locally.

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ICPC Says Nigeria Loses $10bn to Illicit Financial Flows 

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says Nigeria accounts for 20 per cent or 10 billion dollars (N3.8 trillion) of the estimated 50 billion dollars that Africa loses to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).

Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said this during a virtual meeting to review a report on IFFs in relation to tax, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, spokesperson for ICPC, said in a statement released in Abuja on Friday.

The ICPC Chairman said, “the African Union Illicit Financial Flow Report estimated that Africa is losing nearly 50 billion dollars through profit shifting by multinational corporations and about 20 per cent of this figure is from Nigeria alone.”

The ICPC boss explained that taxes played “very strategic role in the nation’s political economy.”

He said the objective of the meeting was to improve on the awareness on IFFs, especially in the areas of taxation.

The ICPC boss added that the meeting would give participants the opportunity to openly discuss how to effectively use the instrumentality of taxation to curb IFFs through risk-based approach.

“Risk-based approach, that is: monitoring and audit; due process in tax collection; structured tax amnesty framework skewed in public interest; data privacy; timely resolution of audits and payment of tax refunds and intelligence sharing among revenue generating, regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Owasanoye also stated that for the contemporary tax man to remain relevant, he must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.

The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mr Muhammad Nani, expressed concerns that IFFs posed a serious threat to the Nigerian economy as the act robbed the nation of resources that were needed for development.

Nani declared that tackling IFFs would expand the country’s tax base and improve revenue generation, which was required for development.

He consequently pushed for policy reforms that would make it difficult for “capital flights” from occurring so that the country would be placed on the path of growth.

Other discussants at the event identified weak regulatory framework, opacity of financial system and lack of capacity amongst others as some of the factors that fuelled IFFs.

The discussants emphasised the need for capacity building of relevant stakeholders as one of the ways to stamp out illicit financial flows.

They commended ICPC for leveraging its corruption prevention mandate to open a new vista in IFFs discourse in Nigeria. (NAN)

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