The delivery date for the completion of the $700m Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben gas pipeline project, popularly called OB3, has been shifted from March 2024 to August, as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited announced its readiness to complete the facility.

On February 28, 2024, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government had declared that the project would be completed in March this year, a project that commenced in 2016.

It announced this in February through the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Gas, Ekperikpe Ekpo, at the 7th Nigeria International Energy Summit in Abuja, where the minister described the OB3 gas pipeline as one of the biggest gas transmission systems in both Nigeria and Africa.

“I am highly elated to announce that going by the contractor estimates, the OB3 pipeline will be completed by March 2024 and the 42” 127km pipeline will supply 2BCF (two billion standard cubic feet) per day,” Ekpo had stated.

But in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by the spokesperson of NNPC, Olufemi Soneye, the oil firm declared that the project would be completed in August.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mele Kyari, confirmed this during an inspection tour of the OB3 pipeline River Niger Crossing operation at Aboh, Delta State, on Saturday, according to the statement.

By design, the OB3 gas pipeline is the interconnector which links the Eastern gas pipeline network to the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System in the West and the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano pipeline in the North.

The River Niger Crossing operation has been the major impediment to the completion of the strategic OB3 gas pipeline for over three years, NNPC stated.

This, it said, was due to the failure of the various technologies deployed to achieve the construction of the 48-inch pipe under the river bed between Ndoni in Rivers State and Aboh in Delta State.

It, however, noted that with the adoption of the Micro-Tunnelling/Direct Pipe Installation technology, the new contractors, Messrs HDD Thailand/Enikkom and Tunnelling Services Group (TSG), were making a headway with about 860mout of the 1,800m achieved so far.

Speaking after the inspection tour, Kyari expressed delight at the breakthrough, which signalled the imminent completion of the project.

He was quoted as saying, “This is a major project of monumental value to our country. What this means is that this is the only way we can deliver the gas revolution. I am very happy and convinced that, latest by the middle of August, we will complete this project. I have been assured of that by the project team.”

On the significance of the project, he said, “Once completed, we will see about 2.2 billion standard cubic feet of gas coming into our network. We believe that this will give our country a breathing space of demand, I am sure we can catch up with that kind of demand in the next one and a half years. We are happy that this will give us the platform to unleash the gas revolution in our country.”

Also speaking on the project during the tour, Ekpo expressed satisfaction with the pace of work at the OB3 River Niger Crossing operation.

“I was here last year and I saw the work that was going on. There was a promise that it would be completed by December last year. I took it with a doubt. But today, from what I can see, I am confident that by July or August, it will be completed and it will be commissioned by the President,” the minister stated.

The Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Olu Verheijen, said she was looking forward to the completion of the project having been assured by the technical team that the right technology had been found to resolve the complex challenges of the River Niger Crossing.

“As the minister and other speakers have said, we are looking forward to having this project deliver prosperity to Nigerians in the form of electricity and other areas,” Verheijen said.

The Managing Director, Tunnel Service Group, one of the contractors to the project, Ingo Justen, who was on the ground to supervise the project at the request of the NNPC boss, expressed confidence that the current technology being applied in the execution of the project would lead to its speedy conclusion.

In a presentation, the Managing Director, NNPC Gas Infrastructure Company, Seyi Omotowa, disclosed that at the rate of progress with the new technology deployed, the River Niger Crossing operation, which is the only aspect of the OB3 Gas Pipeline Project left, would be achieved on schedule.

The estimated cost for constructing the OB3 gas pipeline is $700m. The project started sometime in 2016 and is also known as the East-West Pipeline.

It connects the Obiafu-Obrikom gas plant near Omuku, Rivers State, to Oben, Edo State and is to transport over two billion standard cubic feet of gas per day.



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