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Shell talks up $5bn Bonga North plan in Nigeria


Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has held talks with Shell, raising the prospect of Bonga North finally moving ahead.

The president met Shell integrated gas and upstream director Zoe Yujnovich in Abuja. A statement said Shell was investing $1 billion over the next five to 10 years in order to unlock gas supplies. These would go to domestic use and also Nigeria LNG (NLNG), which is in the midst of an expansion programme.

However, the statement also said there would be an “imminent” $5bn investment in the 120,000 barrel per day Bonga North project.

Tinubu gave assurances that his government would work to ensure investments. “We are very focused on resolving all investment-related issues. There is no bottleneck that is too difficult for us to remove”, the president said. “We need each other … we want you to do more.”

The presidency quoted Yujnovich as saying she could not succeed in her role “unless I can find a way to bring more new investments to Nigeria”.

She went on to say she had committed to invest in oil and gas.

“In Nigeria, I see all the conditions to continue to make this partnership stronger. In the deepwater, we have an imminent investment opportunity in Bonga North. This is $5 billion. I am keen to make that investment as soon as possible. We want to continue and build a pipeline of new investments in Nigeria,” the statement said.

Shell declined to comment specifically on Bonga North. “We do not comment on private meetings and any future decision on investments would be announced in the usual way,” a representative said.

Making progress

While the company has made clear its desire to move away from its mature oil onshore, it has also spoken of its support for gas and the deepwater. As such, the reported comments do seem to align with corporate objectives.

Tinubu and Yujnovich met in July this year. The president noted the administration had “made progress since our last meeting. I will continue to support you on this path.”

Nigeria has been pitted against Shell, and Eni, for some years over alleged corruption at OML 245. An Italian court found for the companies in March 2021, but Nigeria continued to seek restitution of $1.1bn – until last month. Nigeria withdrew its claims against Eni and Shell and waived any future claims on the case.

In 2022, Shell issued three tenders for a subsea tieback plan, which would have hooked the Bonga North field into the Bonga Main FPSO. Earlier this year, the company issued another tender for 3D baseline ocean bottom node (OBN) seismic on Bonga North. The plan – which also covered 4D on Bonga Main – was to begin in the first quarter of 2024 and run for two years.

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