15 December 2015 Abuja – THE announcement by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, that the Federal Government will privatise the nation’s petroleum products pipeline network has continued to elicit mixed reactions from stakeholders in the oil and gas industry. While operators applaud the decision as a wise move, labour on the other hand thinks it is anti-people.
This is as the federal government’s split of the contentious Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, as well as the division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, into two components have been greeted with cautious optimism by industry players
The Executive Vice-Chairman, Techno Oil Limited, Mrs. Nkechi Obi, told Vanguard that it is a welcome development as pipelines privatisation will curtail the incessant vandalism being experienced in the industry.
“I welcome the idea. I support it. It is a good initiative because it is a challenge that has hindered distribution of petroleum products. So many things are involved though. The integrity of the pipelines is a big challenge. The private sector can invest in the pipeline networks. It is something that should be done now; it is a way to go.
“The initiative will minimise pipeline vandalism in the country. Come to think of it. Many depots are privately owned. How many of them are vandalised? The private sector knows how best to relate with their host communities – they provide roads, hospitals, water and other amenities for their communities.
“If the pipelines are privatised, vandalism will be minimal. The new owners will look into the problems associated with vandalism and tackle them drastically,” she said.
Also commenting, the Chairman/CEO, Brittania-U Nigeria Limited, an indigenous exploration and production company, Mrs Uju Ifejika, said the policy should be fully supported to encourage government to face governance and leave out business for the private sector.
She said: “Government should face governance and leave business for the private sector. Overtime, it has shown that government cannot manage the pipelines. They should be given out to people who will pay through put.
The private sector will run the pipelines profitably. Mind you the Minister is coming from a background that knows that there is a demarcation between business and governance. Most of the pipelines are very old. The new owners should be able to do integrity check on them, maintain them effectively and run them efficiently to make profit.
“As regards vandalism, the new owners will put in place everything that will help to protect the pipelines. They will use sensors which government has not been able to use. They will find a way to reach the host communities and partner with them for effective monitoring. They can engage the communities by training them and giving them jobs. By so doing, the communities will know who to hold responsible.
Everybody should support the policies of the Minister of State for Petroleum, because he has shown that he means well for the survival of the oil industry.” However, President, Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Achese Igwe, believes that the policy is anti-people.
According to him, “If this is the kind of change this administration is intending to bring in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, then the nation is down for the worst. I thought he will be talking about privatising the security of the pipelines. We (NUPENG) will be waiting for that time to come. However, we will not afford to fold our arms to watch.”
Kachikwu recently disclosed that the federal government is set to privatise the petroleum products pipeline network in the country to minimize the issue of perennial vandalism and ensure availability of products in the country in 2016.
Also, many of those who spoke to Vanguard believe that though the split of the petroleum industry bill, PIB and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC were expected, the implementation would determine the seriousness of the government.
The Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Crusteam, a group of energy and power companies Mr. Barry Esimone told Vanguard that the attitude of the NNPC staff should change for the positive, if the reform would be effective. “For me, it is like a difference between half a dozen and six.
What is important is the attitude and commitment of the staff. If the work attitude is not changed, we will not make any headway. “They staff are used to easy way out. The split may not guarantee performance. Human beings make a difference.