The Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco on Tuesday signed five strategic Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) that would foster Nigerian – Morocco bilateral collaboration and promote the development of hydrocarbons, agriculture, and commerce in both countries.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva led the Nigerian delegation to the agreement signing ceremony at Marrakech, Morocco, while the Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa Mr. Anouar Jamali signed for the Kingdom of Morocco.
Under the agreement between OCP, NSIA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria will import phosphate from the Kingdom of Morocco and use it to produce blended fertiliser for the local market and export. Nigeria will also produce Ammonia and export to Morocco.
As part of the project, the Nigerian Government plans to establish an Ammonia plant at Akwa Ibom State. The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari were part of the delegation and they confirmed that their organisations would take equity in the Ammonia plant when the Final Investment Decision (FID) would be taken.
Other members of the delegation included Governor of Akwa Ibom, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel; Governor of Jigawa State, Mallam Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar and Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Mr Uche Orji.
The Minister confirmed that the project will broaden economic opportunities for the two nations and improve the wellbeing of the people. He added that the project will also positively impact agriculture, stimulate the growth of gas-based industries and lead to massive job creation.
He revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari had mandated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and it agencies and other government agencies to give maximum support for the project. “He mandated me to ensure that at least the first phase of this project is commissioned before the expiration of his second term in office in 2023,” he added.
The MOUs that were signed were for the Support of the 2nd phase of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative; Shareholders Agreement for the creation of the Joint venture company to develop the multipurpose industrial platform and MOU for equity investment by the NNPC in the Joint Venture and support of the Gas.
Other agreements are Term sheet for gas sales and aggregation agreement and MOU for land acquisition and administrative facilitation to the establishment of the multipurpose industrial platform for gas sales and aggregation agreement.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB described the bilateral agreement as significant to the Nigerian economy as it would accelerate Nigeria’s gas monetisation programme through establishment of the Ammonia plant in Nigeria and improve our balance of trade which is currently skewed in favour of Morocco, through the export of Ammonia.
The agreement would also improve Nigeria’s per capita fertiliser application through importation of phosphate derivatives from Morocco, he added.
Wabote challenged the relevant parties to focus on accelerating the FID, assuring that NCDMB is would take equity investment for long term sustainability of the project.
He also canvassed for the setting up of a project management oversight structure to ensure project requirements and timelines are met. He also submitted that “there is also need “to determine manpower needs for construction and operations phase of the project and develop training programmes that will create the workforce pool from Nigeria and Morocco and design collaboration framework between Research centres in Nigeria and Morocco to develop technology solutions for maintaining the ISBL and OSBL units of the Ammonia complex.”
He also harped on the need to “leverage on Research & Development to develop innovative fertiliser blends that meet nutritional requirements of Nigeria’s native soil and develop project sustainability plan, to ensure seamless integration of host communities unto the project.”
Wabote affirmed that NCDMB is committed to support the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to realise the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative and will focus its support on taking equity investment and maximising in-country value addition from the project.
In his remarks, the GMD of NNPC confirmed that the corporation would take equity in the project and assured of NNPC’s commitment to deliver gas to the Ammonia plant. He added that NNPC was aligning itself to the emerging energy transition and would be diversifying its portfolio.
Governor of Akwa Ibom promised that the state would be a good host to the project, adding that the state controls 36 percent of Nigeria gas reserve and therefore deserves to host the project. He said the state was an investment heaven in terms of peace and has the longest shoreline in the country (109km).
He also confirmed that land has been designated for the Ammonia project and any other support needed to actualize the project would be provided on schedule.