The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) is making desperate efforts to boost output after heavy flooding, upstream gas supply issues and pipeline vandalism left the six-train facility on Bonny Island producing far below capacity last year, and the trend has largely continued in 2023.
According to a report by Natural Gas Intelligence, liquified natural gas exports have been 'protractedly declining' since the 22 million metric tons/year NLNG declared a force majeure in October 2022 due to flooding, said Kpler analyst, Ana Subasic. 'Nigeria's LNG exports have been lower, but steady since the beginning of this year,' Subasic stressed.
Subasic said, NLNG, a major Atlantic Basin supplier since 1999 when the first train came online, delivered 1 million tons (Mt) to the global market at a 53 per cent utilisation rate in January.
The situation seems to be improving, however, as exports bounced back to 1.07 Mt last month, or 63 per cent of its total monthly capacity, after four consecutive months of decline, according to Kpler, adding that, commodity data firm also projects exports to reach 1.22 Mt in March.
Although Nigeria is Africa's largest LNG exporter, and as Europe looks to replace Russian natural gas with more of the super-chilled, Nigeria has been unable to increase capacity to meet the ramp in global demand.
The country is missing out on opportunities in what the International Energy Agency expects to be a tight market until 2026, when new projects come online and begin easing the supply crunch.
Nigeria is reportedly not alone as output has fallen across Africa.
gola, Cameroon, Egypt and Equatorial Guinea, utilisation rates have slipped to just 58 per cent of the 71 mmty of liquefaction capacity available, according to the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.
At the continent's largest plant, NLNG exports have dropped from a high of 21.33 Mt in 2019 to just 14.61 Mt last year, according to Kpler. Nigeria once had a 10 per cent share of the global LNG export market, but by 2021, the country's market share had fallen to just 6 per cent.
A 'general lack of investment, maintenance, prolonged flooding periods, and more recently pipeline vandalism in Nigeria, has been at the core of Nigeria's decline in output seen since 2019. Human-imposed sabotage and theft have been affecting the feed gas supply of Nigerian associated gas, directly linked with Nigerian oil production,' Subasi told NGI.
Kpler Insight expects to see some Nigerian natural gas production return this year with efforts on the part of exploration companies underway, but not at levels seen in 2021. 'Overall production from NLNG will continue to underperform, and should issues persist in the future, we expect to see a tighter national balance,' it stressed.