Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday, stated that despite the country’s quest to diversify its revenue to mainly non-oil sources, crude oil would continue to remain relevant in the Nigerian economy.
Speaking in Abuja, at the Sixth Triennial National Delegates’ Conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, Buhari, who was represented by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, reiterated that the oil and gas sector was central to the infrastructural and economic development of Nigeria.
Buhari stated that crude oil would remain prominent in the global energy mix in the medium and long term, despite the quest for a diversification to a non-oil economy, adding that this would also translate to massive opportunities for members of PENGASSAN.
He said: “It was in acknowledgement of the significance of the oil and gas industry as an enabler of national growth and development, that this government carved out some Strategic Priorities for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources with a view to stimulating the sector in order to foster the sustainability of the Nigerian economy, create well paid jobs and take millions of Nigerians out of poverty.”
Buhari further stated that the Federal Government plans to champion increased utilization of the country’s gas resources to cushion the effect of the deregulation of the downstream petroleum industry on Nigerians.
He added that shifting emphasis from Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, to increased gas utilization would also create enormous opportunities for the economy.
He said: “Our collaboration will focus on gas to transmute Nigeria from the conventional dependence on white products for prime movers to a cleaner, more available, accessible, acceptable and affordable energy use in gas. This will cushion the effects of deregulation and create enormous job opportunities for Nigerians.”
Furthermore, he stated that while revamping the existing refineries, greenfield and development of modular refineries are springing up, noting that these activities would continue to engage members of PENGASSAN and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG.
Also speaking, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, bemoaned the high cost of oil production in the country and the high share of personnel cost to the unit out cost of the commodity.
According to him, human resources’ cost takes as much as 46 per cent in the sector, adding that the development indicated that the structure may be wrong or abused.
Kyari said, “Trade Unionism has shifted from activism to collaboration. The perspectives of the oil and gas industry had changed and unions should be more interested in the survival of organizations especially in the COVID-19 era.”
In his address, President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Ndukaku Ohaeri, urged the National Assembly to resolve the challenges that have hindered the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, in the past, noting that the non-passage of the PIB had denied Nigeria lots of benefits that could have accrued to it from the hydrocarbon industry.
He also emphasized the need for the Federal Government to bring back the nation’s refineries and create the enabling environment for investment in the refining business sector to thrive.