At the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) gas plant in OB/OB Omoku, in Ogba, Egbema, Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State. From the entrance, one could see a giant gas flare being accompanied by a thick, black smoke from the three gas pipes in the plant.
In 2006, Arco Group and its erstwhile partner, General Electric International Operations Nigeria Limited (GEION), won a contract in a Joint Venture involving the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and NAOC Limited to maintain the latter’s rotating equipment, gas turbines and machines at NAOC’s OB/OB, Kwale and Ebocha gas plants in Delta and Rivers states.
Employees at the gas plant blamed the heavy black smoke and the unusual high flare on inadequate maintenance of the plant. For more than a year, the operation at the plant has been a subject of litigation. Locked in the legal tussle are: an indigenous oil and gas engineering company, Arco Group, NAOC and an engineering firm, Plantgeria Nigeria Limited. Plantegeria has strong Italian roots.
The initial contract ran from 2006 to 2011, with Arco responsible for the maintenance of the plants rotating equipment, including the turbines, the centrifugal and reciprocating compressor. The company was also mandated to do preventive, corrective maintenance and general overhaul. However, trouble began when both Arco and GEION were requested to submit a proposal. But, NAOC, a party to the joint venture deal, allegedly had other plans. It allegedly introduced a fresh company – Plantgeria – and decided to award the contract to it against the directives of the Joint Partners.