Peace Obi and Elizabeth Uwandu
Key players in the oil and gas industry gathered at the 2019 Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, NIPS have called for collaboration among Africa countries in exploring her oil and gas resources, especially in harnessing the potentials in the continent’s new hydrocarbon discoveries.
Declaring the four day conference themed, “Shaping the future through efficiency and innovation” opened, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, expressed delight over the opportunities being made available by new oil discoveries in the African region, called for mutual collaboration in surmounting some of the challenges encountered in the exploration and production of oil.
President Buhari also noted that the only way to overcome the setbacks posed by the exponential growth in the mainstream sector remained looking inwards rather than seeking help outside the continent.
“Today’s theme which is Collaboration, Africa and futuristic model,” shows that as we talk about oil today, people have mentioned about oil reserve; they have talked about capacity and the potential for 74 per cent growth over the next 30 -35 years in Africa in terms of production.
“All over Africa discoveries abound and the opportunities are coming with huge challenges relating to environment. You no longer can produce oil the way we did it before. People have got to take responsibility for the environment impact of what they do.
“The challenges relate to the environment. You no longer can produce oil the way we did it before. People have rushed to take responsibility for the environmental impact of what they do. Host communities challenges are not just becoming vociferous, but militant in nature. So, you have to begin to listen to those regulatory agencies as these resources arrive.
“Now, the ease with which we use to get resources in terms of financing is getting tighter. The oil majors and investors are watching opportunities all over the world. Even in Africa, the emerging economies that are finding oil by the day are facing major challenges. For countries like Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola who have historically been the dominant countries in some of these areas.
“So, unless, you get your policies right, unless you market place right, unless you get your collaborative mechanism right , unless you get your infrastructure right, you are going to face a huge amount of challenges with scarce resources and scarce capital,” the President said.
Stating that the country has over the years experienced growth in the area of technology and expertise in oil exploration and production, Buhari noted that Nigeria’s experience has made her a rallying point for countries that are discovering oil in their territories.
“Today, independent producers are doing over 12 per cent of our contribution to our national production. I will like to see the figure grow over to 30 percent, which means that we need to create models that encourage investors to invest their money, seek resources and seek financing.
“Our skills set are quite unbelievable, over 90 per cent of oil majors employees are Nigerians. This means some of the best skills set are here. One of the details I found in NNPC in 2015 is that every detail of capability you need to run a global company is here. You may have issues in terms of politics, but in terms of skill set, they are solid. If you look at the class of Nigerians who have left the oil industry in the last 20 years in retirement, we have so much capability in terms of manpower resource, and we need to begin to harness all these.
“We are better to begin to show skills than then. And we are hoping that with this collaborative spirit that we are beginning to build, we will begin to export some of these to Africa. We need to it down with our brothers who are coming into the industry for the first time, get some of our local partners and investors to begin to get into these areas and take opportunities of what they can offer.
“So Africa, the time has come, the time cannot be better, the realities have dawn on us that unless we protect our border coast as many countries are doing; unless we begin to look more to the continent; look more to financing, unless we begin to look at African financial entities to help us to develop key infrastructure that we need in this sector, we would have lost a huge opportunity.
Speaking further the President noted that with the rate at which technology is growing, especially the electric cars, solar power, among others, that Nigeria may have her resources trapped in the ground if the country does not move fast in adopting the needed technology in the industry. “If we do not move very quickly, we would be losing a huge amount of growing resource, even when exploited will be worthless. Look at the price of oil over the last five years and its performances, look at the projections over the next few years, something urgent needs to be done for Africa. We cannot do it alone; we need to collaborate with ourselves.
“I challenge all of you to think outside the box, think Africa collaboration, think the future,” he advised.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru commended the organisers of NIPS for consistently in the last two years raising platform to address critical issues in the oil and gas industry.
His words, “NIPS is a big veritable platform for us to have nice African response to global oil and gas challenges. It is a melting pot to meet, discourse and share ideas, not just to move our industry forward but our different economies as well. I enjoin us all to be fully committed and participate in the various programmes.
“Quite a lot of oil and gas discoveries and projects are waiting Final Investment Decisions. However, these opportunities will remain a mirage if we do not addressed critical issues such as lack of good infrastructure, legal impediments, transparency issues among tje host of other factors. If we collaborate especially in areas of infrastructure and also align our respective regulatory frameworks, I see opportunities out there to be harnessed and the resources in the region will be there for grabs,” “Dr Baru stated.
Corroborating the President’s call to setting the right framework in the sector, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote said that having attended conferences in Cape Town, Lagos and now in Abuja, all of whom focused on the need for collaboration, it was time Africa looked inwards to tap into the gains of local content and collaborate as it was the way forward.
According to Wabote, “I think for Africa, it is time for us to look inwards. When I listen to people trying to solve the migration of Africa to Europe, what are they looking for job and better life.”