The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board has moved in to resolve the N970m contractual dispute between the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas and a Nigerian company, Macobarb International.
First News learnt that the dispute was being mediated by the NCDMB as reconciliatory meetings had reportedly been held at its headquarters in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
It was also learnt that Macobarb demanded the payment of the N970m from the NLNG for what it termed “wrongful termination of a contract and value for downtime and equipment on site over some period of time.”
Some organisations such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Shell Petroleum Development Company and Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, were said to have made efforts to mediate in the dispute without success.
Sources at NCDMB said the content board received the complaints in October 2019 and invited both parties, noting that the first reconciliatory meeting held on December 10, 2019 in Yenagoa.
A senior official of the board, Alexis Emele, reportedly chaired the reconciliation meeting.
The source, who participated in the talks, said Macobarb asked for what it called ‘Standing Time Amount’ when the NLNG kept the company’s equipment and key personnel doing nothing on offshore contract for 559 days.
The Nigerian firm said it calculated the claim with contract standing time rates to get N958m plus outstanding balance on turnstile and vehicle barrier Macobarb supplied the NLNG as part of the contract, all totalling N970m.
Macobarb was said to have complained to several organisations that it had been rated as a top performer in contracts with the NLNG until it was upgraded and awarded a turnstile and security contract in 2014.
The company said the contract’s biggest term was that there would be no mobilisation fee paid to Macobarb but that every milestone achieved and approved would be paid for, failing which the defaulter would pay penalty.
The Chief Executive Officer of Macobarb, Shedrack Ogboru, said when it was time to pay the first batch, after all due technical approvals, one official in NLNG stopped payment without offering any valid reasons.
He said the unwarranted development affected the job so badly that performance became impossible.
He said he took loans from a bank to execute the early stages of the contract, only for payment to be stalled.
He regretted that the NLNG only turned round to terminate the contract, leading to protracted dispute.
But the NLNG management led by Mr Tony Attah had in a reaction said the contract was terminated due to non-performance.
At the NCDMB brokered talks, the NLNG was said to have insisted that it terminated the contract on the grounds of non-performance and paid the contractor the value of work done.
Macobarb was said to have rejected that, saying the terms of the contract were grossly violated by pushing the company into non-performance through non-payment of milestones achieved.
It was gathered that both sides tabled their positions and that the NCDMB asked them to report back on a date early in January 2020.
The NLNG was said to have disputed figures tabled by Macobarb but the mediators asked Macobarb to furnish the Board with the information itemizing all outstanding claims being allegedly owed by NLNG on the contract.
The Board was said to have also asked the NLNG to come up with information concerning the status of payments on demobilisation for the contract and the 20ft container kept in their place by the contractor as part of the contract terms.
Macobarb expressed optimism that the matter is being resolved by the NCDMB instead of resorting to court so that other Nigerian companies affected in the contract could heave a sigh of relief.