Six Nigerian banks snub rising non-performing loans to fund Seplat's plant | Ripples Nigeria
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Six Nigerian banks snub rising non-performing loans to fund Seplat’s plant

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At a period loans to the oil industry are non-performing, Nigerian banks still continue to pump credit into the oil market, with the latest beneficiary being Seplat Petroleum, which recently raised $260 million from six Nigerian banks and two foreign lenders.

Seplat Petroleum raised the capital to fund its incorporated joint venture, ANOH Gas Processing Company (AGPC), which is equally owned with Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The list of Nigerian banks that participated in the fundraising organised by Seplat Petroleum includes RMD Nigeria Limited. Nigerian banks involved in the fundraising are Stanbic IBTC, UBA, Zenith Bank, Union Bank of Nigeria and FCMB Capital Markets Limited. Two foreign banks, Mauritius Commercial Bank Limited and FirstRand Bank Limited also took part.

The $260 million will be disbursed into the building of ANOH Plant, which is located on OML 53 in Imo State.

READ MORE: Non-performing loans of Nigerian banks now N1.17tn –NBS

In a statement released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Seplat Petroleum stated that it still has access to $60 million for the complete stage of the plant development, as over $450 million had been pledged to AGPC.

Seplat Petroleum management disclosed that $650 million was budgeted for the construction cost, as against the initial estimation of $700 million. Seplat’s management said the ANOH plant, with a 300MMscfd capacity, will usher in less expensive power generation.

While speaking on the funds raised, Seplat Chief Executive Officer, Roger Brown, said, “Completing the funding of ANOH is an important milestone for AGPC. The ANOH development is one of the government’s Seven Critical Gas Development Projects and our involvement provides a clear path towards strengthening Seplat’s position as Nigeria’s leading indigenous diversified energy producer.

“It will help us drive, alongside our government partners, Nigeria’s transition to cleaner, less expensive power generation. We are extremely proud to partner with the Nigerian Gas Company in this strategically important project, which will create jobs and prosperity in the Nigerian economy.

“Seplat will continue to diversify its business and invest in gas to help Nigeria develop its own natural resources, which in turn will drive more sustainable social and economic growth for a young, rapidly growing population.”

Also commenting on the secured fund, was the Managing Director of ANOH, Okechukwu Mba, who stated that, “Successfully closing the US$260 million debt facility means that the ANOH project is now fully funded.

“Once operational, AGPC will be a significant supplier of gas to Nigeria’s power sector, supporting local employment and the cleaner generation of power for Nigerian homes and businesses. We conservatively estimate that the gas from AGPC will be enough to generate electricity for more than 5 million people”.

The news on Seplat Petroleum’s fundraising comes at a period the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that the NPLs rose beyond the 5% regulatory limit in 2020 full year, as it climbed 6.01% by December 2020.

Out of about N1.1 trillion earmarked as non-performing loan in Nigeria as at Q3 last year, the oil & gas industry accounted for N238 billion. The oil & gas industry has been a huge beneficiary of bank credit, and also a major defaulter, representing 11.3% of the total bad loan.

Recently, causes of non-performing loan in the oil industry has been due to oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, coupled with the outbreak of COVID-19. These factors have made servicing loan a problem for oil & gas companies, as the crash in crude oil price negatively impacted on their revenue.

Despite the high NPLs among oil & gas companies, Nigerian banks continue to risk investment for a return of oil money, a decision that could weaken their earnings. The banks are however, betting on the industry’s collateral cover and recovering oil price, which currently trade at $55.68 per barrel.

By Fakoyejo Olalekan…

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