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THIS DAY ONLINE (Nigeria): Shell Restores Gas Supply to Trans-Amadi

From Ahamefula Ogbu in Port Harcourt, 05.18.2007

The face-off between manufacturing firms in Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State over controversial N700 million bill for gas supply has been rested as the state government has paid Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC)  N350million, which is half of the outstanding claims.

In a statement by SPDC External Affairs Director, Mrs. Diezeani Alison-Madueke, the oil giant said they have also entered into an agreement with the Rivers State Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources on how to defray the remaining part of the said debt.

“SPDC, yesterday (May 16) resumed gas supply to customers at Trans Amadi Industrial Layout, Port Harcourt following part payment of a huge backlog of debts. The company suspended supply April 2, 2007 because of very high indebtedness and lack of progress in resolving it.

“Yesterday, the Rivers State Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, which distributes the gas to Trans Amadi customers, handed over a cheque covering 50 percent of the sum owed as at December 31, 2006.

“SPDC and the ministry also signed an agreement on timing for paying the outstanding debt as well as executing a new supply agreement, Diezeani stated.

The state government had waded into the gas cut crises and offered to pay off the debt to avoid the laying off of over 20,000 workers, most of them, indigenes of the state which the gas cut occasioned.

The companies had earlier complained that they had paid all their debts arising from gas supplied to them before the issue of the over-billing cropped up, pointing out that since some of them were quoted companies, they rendered their financial accounts since 2002 and could not do anything about it.

They argued that since the ministry was not adding any value to their transaction, they should be allowed a direct relationship with SPDC as against the practice of dealing with the gas suppliers through an intermediary.

They also complained that the middleman role being played by the state ministry makes it impossible for them to hold SPDC accountable when they supply them with gas mixed with condensates which blow up their valves.

Nigerian Bottling Company Plc.; Nigeria Engineering Works Ltd.; Rivers Vegetable Oil Company Ltd.; Air Liquide Nigeria Plc.; Tractor and Equipment Nig. Ltd.; Quality Radiator Nig. Ltd.; General Agro Nig. Ltd.; and Total Support Nigeria are among the companies still having skeletal operations after the cut.

Others who had closed shop include Michelin Nigeria Limited, First Aluminum Nigeria Plc.; West African Glass Industries Plc.; Eastern Enamel Ware Factory Nigeria Ltd.; and Crocodile Manufacturing Nig. Ltd.

http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=78514

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