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
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