João Galamba guarantees cheap Nigerian gas will supply all demands of Portuguese households
In a new ‘first’, the Portuguese government sent its representative João Galamba (secretary of State for Energy) to Nigeria last week to ensure deliveries of liquified natural gas (LNG).
Galamba travelled to Nigeria’s capital Abuja in the company of GALP CEO Andy Brown.
Nigeria has become Portugal’s principal gas source (having provided 55% of requirements since January), while the United States supplies around 28%.
Explains Expresso, the visit took place in a “complex international context, with various threats to deliveries of LNG in European terminals, including those of Portugal. There have been consignments of Nigerian gas for delivery to Portugal, under terms of long-term contracts with GALP, that have been diverted to other markets, desperate to reinforce their reserves for the coming months in the face of the cuts in supply from Russia.
“Equally, on Nigerian soil there have been reports of attacks on oil pipelines, compromising the logistics of gas transport for the filling of tankers that take LNG to Nigeria’s clients”.
This is the official story. There have been no ‘follow-up’ pieces, on ‘the results’ of this “unusual intervention”, unless one counts the very much tongue-in-cheek opinion piece in Observador online today, entitled “Nigerian fraudsters strike again, only this time they are Portuguese”.
Columnist Helena Matos explains that Portuguese nationals are well used to (seeing through) emails from purported ‘Nigerian princes’ asking for help with the bank transfers of fortunes. Why then are they expected to fall for announcements from the government “saying Nigeria will supply all the gas we need at a price that will always be low”?
Ms Matos refers to João Galamba, in interview with CNN before his trip to Nigeria, saying that the ‘regulated market’ was supplied by “very long-term contracts with Nigeria that guarantee a price very much less than those currently practised”.
What he didn’t explain is that, as a result of this price, part of those deliveries to Portugal have “gone to other markets prepared to pay much higher values. So much higher that they make up for any damages that have to be paid to Portugal for non-compliance with long term contracts”.
That seems to have been the real reason for Galamba’s “less than usual dislocation” from Lisbon, in the company of Andy Brown – bearing in mind the government has said that anyone dissatisfied with rising energy prices can ‘return to the regulated market’. This translates into an open invitation to roughly 1.6 million households.
Says Matos: “this explains why the Secretary of State, shortly after guaranteeing on television that gas bills for Portuguese families would stay the same, or even be cheaper, had to get on a plane to Nigeria, certainly hoping that no-one in that country had any interest in Portuguese politics…”
“Promising what you don’t have, guaranteeing what you can’t guarantee and doing what you shouldn’t have been the Portuguese government’s guidelines in this matter”, says Matos – suggesting the executive has been acting exactly like the authors of those emails from Nigeria, promising fortunes “in exchange for almost nothing”.