THE RIGHT PLACE TO START

Stake­hold­ers meet in Uyo to shed light on op­por­tu­ni­ties that abound in the Nige­rian oil and gas sec­tor, writes Idang Al­ibi

THISDAY - - COMMENT -

One of the key de­ci­sions taken at the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC) meet­ing of Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 23 last year was an ap­proval granted for the es­tab­lish­ment of the Na­tional Coun­cil on Hy­dro­car­bons (NCH) in the Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources. The idea is no doubt cal­cu­lated to have a ma­jor and long last­ing im­pact on the oil and gas in­dus­try in Nige­ria. And it is hardly sur­pris­ing that it is un­der the lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari that that idea was birthed. The pres­i­dent and his Min­is­ter of State, Dr. Em­manuel Ibe Kachikwu, have been old hands in the oil and gas sec­tor both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally and both thor­oughly un­der­stands its dy­nam­ics and there­fore, the im­por­tance of hav­ing such a fo­rum to help in the growth and de­vel­op­ment of that very crit­i­cal sec­tor in Nige­ria,

Like other coun­cils in other min­istries, de­part­ments and agen­cies (MDAs), the NCH is meant to be a ma­jor pub­lic-pri­vate pol­icy think-tank that will sup­ply, in an ad­vi­sory role, strik­ing ideas, in­no­va­tions, pos­si­ble adap­ta­tions and sug­ges­tions for the smooth and more pro­duc­tion op­er­a­tions of the Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources and its agen­cies to the over­all ben­e­fit of its stake­hold­ers and the coun­try’s econ­omy at large.

This plat­form availed the Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will be a sus­tain­able one for the ven­ti­la­tion and dis­til­la­tion of ideas by stake­hold­ers in the oil and gas in­dus­try. The NCH will be con­vened on an an­nual ba­sis, ex­cept when some emer­gency is­sues arise. The rec­om­men­da­tions from the NCH shall as­sist the Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources to re­view, strengthen and or ini­ti­ate ro­bust poli­cies for the oil and gas sec­tor of the na­tional econ­omy.

Fol­low­ing the Septem­ber 24, 2016 ap­proval, the Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources took an im­me­di­ate step to give ef­fect to it. It held the in­au­gu­ral meet­ing of the Na­tional Coun­cil on Hy­dro­car­bons on Mon­day and Tues­day 21- 22 Oc­to­ber, 2016 at the NICON Lux­ury Ho­tel in Abuja with the theme Re­al­is­ing the Po­ten­tial of Hy­dro­car­bon in Nige­ria. That was some his­toric first of some sorts scored by the min­istry un­der the lead­er­ship of Buhari and Dr. Kachikwu.

From Novem­ber 16 to Novem­ber 20, the sec­ond in the se­ries of the Na­tional Coun­cil on Hy­dro­car­bons will be hold­ing at the Ibom Trop­i­cana Event Cen­tre in Uyo, cap­i­tal of Akwa-Ibom State. The theme of the Uyo meet­ing is “Seven Big Wins: Frame­work for Re­al­is­ing the Po­ten­tial of Hy­dro­car­bons in Nige­ria”. It is an irony of some sorts that af­ter de­pend­ing heav­ily on hy­dro­car­bons for much of our eco­nomic sur­vival for nearly 60 odd years, we as a hy­dro­car­bons en­dowed coun­try still talk about the ‘po­ten­tial’ of hy­dro­car­bons as re­flected in the theme of the first NCH and also in this sec­ond one. That is not an over­sight or ig­no­rance. It is the re­al­ity of our sit­u­a­tion that the un­re­alised po­ten­tial in our hy­dro­car­bons en­dow­ment is still so huge as if it has hardly been scratched. Take the gas sec­tor as an ex­am­ple. Apart from a few cu­bic feet of our nat­u­ral gas which have been ex­ploited for for­eign sale, nat­u­ral gas has hardly been ex­ploited for do­mes­tic use.

The need to quickly take ad­van­tage of what na­ture has gifted us be­fore the op­por­tu­nity is lost in a highly com­pet­i­tive and ever chang­ing in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment is the rea­son the Uyo NCH is an­chored on the Seven Big Wins, a set of well -de­signed seven short and medium term pri­or­ity plans to grow the oil and gas in­dus­try. The Seven Big Wins con­sists of the fol­low­ing: pol­icy and reg­u­la­tion; busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and in­vest­ment drive; gas rev­o­lu­tion; re­finer­ies and lo­cal pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity; Niger Delta se­cu­rity and en­vi­ron­ment, trans­parency and ef­fi­ciency and stake­holder man­age­ment and in­ter­na­tional co­or­di­na­tion.

The Uyo meet­ing is go­ing to touch on all these in or­der to firmly es­tab­lish a frame­work within which all the goals of the Seven Big Wins will be achieved as quickly as pos­si­ble. Which is why in Uyo, deeply knowl­edge­able ex­perts and prac­ti­tion­ers in the oil and gas sec­tor have been re­cruited to speak on a few crit­i­cal ar­eas.

Dr. Tim Okon, a guru in the fis­cals as­pect of petroleum, is sched­uled to speak on the Fis­cal Im­pact of Seven Big Wins on the Nige­rian Econ­omy; Mr. Gbite Adeniji, a lawyer and in­ter­na­tional gas ex­pert who is cur­rently the Se­nior Tech­ni­cal As­sis­tant to the Min­is­ter of State for Petroleum Re­sources, is ex­pected to speak on Pol­icy Reg­u­la­tions (The Jour­ney So Far; Mr. David Sani, an in-house ex­pert and Di­rec­tor (Gas) of the Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources, will be speak­ing on Gas In­fra­struc­ture, Gas to Power and Gas Flare Com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion in which he is ex­pected to dwell on ef­forts be­ing ag­gres­sively made by the min­istry to en­sure the greater ex­ploita­tion of our gas re­serves and to con­vey flared nat­u­ral gas to Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas (LNG)for the coun­try’s vast en­ergy needs; Mr. Charles Achodo, an ex­pert on frag­ile so­ci­eties, will be speak­ing to the gath­er­ing on Strate­gic Work Plan for De­vel­op­ment of in the Niger Delta (2017-2019 and Com­mu­nity Pipe­lines Sur­veil­lance (Gains of Gov­ern­ment-Stake­holder En­gage­ment while Mal­lam Isa Baba, Di­rec­tor in-charge of the Oil Ser­vices depart­ment of the Min­istry, will speak on Crude Oil: Fuel for In­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion.’’

With these em­i­nent speak­ers and many more who will dis­cuss the pa­pers, the Uyo meet prom­ises to be in­tel­lec­tu­ally en­gag­ing as great light is ex­pected to be shed on the op­por­tu­ni­ties that abound in the rich and vast ter­rain of the Nige­rian oil and gas sec­tor that could be taken ad­van­tage of by smart and quick-think­ing busi­ness­men and women for their ben­e­fit and that of the na­tion as a whole. Our hy­dro­car­bons en­dow­ments need to be ex­ploited to cre­ate more jobs and earn more rev­enue for the Nige­rian kitty. Al­ibi is the Di­rec­tor, Press, of the Min­istry of Petroleum Re­sources

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