The Oil and Gas Trade Group of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), has called on the federal government to put in place policies that are implementable and could address the challenges of the country’s oil and gas sector. urged the government to drop all policies seeking the rehabilitation of the country’s refineries, insisting that such project would continue to be a white elephant project, designed to gulp the country’s money without producing results.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore, while presenting his position, during a panel session, at a roundtable forum organised in Lagos recently, said: “There is no need to pump more money into our refineries because they will never work. Government should come up with policies that will recognise joint ownership of all refineries in the country such that the federal government, state government and local government will be part owners of the refineries.”
Participants at the forum also spoke on infrastructure gap in the oil and gas sector and called on government to build infrastructure backbone and allow private stakeholders to handle the sector.
President of NBCC, Adedapo Adelegan, in his welcome address, said to confront realities and achieve a knowledge-based economy, government would need to channel its policies to encourage more local content, information technology (IT) development in the country and consequently embrace experience and the knowledge of the private sector as critical input in the process of economic policy formulations and exertions. “That is the part of wisdom that will lead to the collective prosperity and sustainable eco-growth of the Nigerian economy now and into the nearest future,” Adelegan said.
According to him, “With the fall in oil prices, an inflation rate hitting 16 per cent and the depreciation of the naira, there is a serious need for businesses to think outside the box and devise sustainable survival strategies.”
The Nigerian Oil and Gas industry has really developed, due to the focus of increasing indigenous participation in the industry. This is reflected through the Nigerian government initiative of increasing local content and ensuring that indigenous companies have a greater part in developing oil and gas assets, Adelegan said.
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, who was the keynote speaker at the roundtable, said despite the huge potentials in the sector, “there is huge under capacity ranging from heavy government participation, legislative uncertainty, large scale oil theft, pipeline vandalism and environmental pollution.”
Kachikwu who was represented by the Director, Office of the Permanent Secretary at the ministry, John Eboigbe, also said when this administration came on board, it had two choices – either to continue the ‘business as usual’ or choose another path leading to a brighter future. He however said the administration decided to face the challenges headlong, confront the current realities and build the Nigerian economy, using the bountiful oil and gas resources.
It is against this background and vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to drive change in the oil and gas industry that in October 2016, we launched a practical and well-reasoned Petroleum Industry Roadmap tagged the 7 Big Wins for the new Nigerian Petroleum Industry, Kachikwu said.
The 7 Big Wins is not like any other roadmap because it reflects our vision and the support and commitment of the present administration President to its implementation.
The minister said confronting the present reality and creating a new oil and gas economy is not just a challenge to meet, but also an opportunity to seize.
He said government has signed a number MOUs with investors on developing different opportunities in the oil and gas sector and that now is the time to accelerate that progress all across the value chain. He therefore called on the Oil and Gas Trade Group of NBCC to join hands with government in rebuilding an ecosystem where businesses operate profitably and efficiently.