Roundtable seeks ways to save Nigeria’s oil industry

Oscarline Onwuemenyi
21 April 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Stakeholders at a roundtable on saving the Nigerian oil and gas industry, in Abuja, have stated that there’s an urgent need to save what is left of the industry through the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), among other measures.

oil workers

Oil workers

The roundtable, which was conveyed under the auspices of the African Initiative for Transparency, Accountability and Responsible Leadership, also noted that the successful implementation of the Local Content Act is key to repositioning the industry on a growth path.

In a presentation, the President, International Institute of Leadership and Governance, Ambassador Paddy Njoku, said that the passage of the Oil and Gas Content Act is a development that has set the country on a path towards achieving sustainable development through the stimulation of industrial development which will result to a skilled national workforce and the creation of a competitive supplier base.

However, to achieve the laudable aims of the act, he said that it is vital for government to continually collaborate with the industry stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the act, and added that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law will further strengthen the progress so far made by the content act.

Also speaking, the President of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, submitted that the industry is in comatose and requires urgent attention for it to be salvaged.

He stated that the constant mass retrenchment in the industry with many companies folding up while the remaining ones are facing challenges, such as pipeline vandalism, are evidence of an ailing industry.

He also highlighted that fact that Nigerians neither know the actual amount of crude production nor how the income from same is expended, and stated that the fact that the crude oil reserves are depleting is very worrisome.

Making recommendations on the way forward, Kaigama said that there should be adequate security of government operatives to guard oil pipelines, the use of ethnic militias to guard the facilities need to be stopped and the multi-national oil companies compelled to upgrade the facility installation such that they are difficult to vandalise.

While also calling for the speedy passage of the PIB, which he described as the most important solution to the myriad of problems facing the sector, he said, “The PIB must be passed into law if efforts to woo investors into the sector are to yield any positive fruits.

“We are likely to even have investors build refineries both for local consumption and export. The law will also discourage pipeline vandalism since 10 per cent of the total earnings from oil and gas will be given to the host communities, thus encouraging them to monitor the safety and integrity of the pipelines with all commitment.”

Speaking further, Kaigama said that there is the urgent need to appoint a substantive minister for petroleum resources with necessary knowledge, experience and competence, maintaining that the position is too critical to be subsumed as one of the many portfolios of the president.

In addition to this, he said that the office of the junior minister for petroleum should continue to exist while a separate group managing director should be appointed for the NNPC.

On his part, the Director of Communications at the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, who stated that the NEITI’s readiness to partner with the Save Nigeria Oil and Gas Initiative, said that the resources have turned to a curse rather than blessing for Nigerians.

Orji emphasised the need to do things differently to revive the sector, noting that the NEITI reports which disclosed $11.3 billion unremitted revenue to government is one that needs to be addressed in view of the fact that government is seeking for loans to finance the budget.

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