Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The current average number of days oil and gas companies operating from Nigeriaâ€™s oil fields in the Niger Delta have to shut down their operations on accounts of various operational challenges has been put at between 80 and 160 days by a former Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Osten Olorunsola.
Speaking at a roundtable meeting on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) organised by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) and Media Initiative on Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI) on Tuesday in Abuja, Olorunsola explained that this was unlike what obtained in other oil producing destinations across the world.
Olorunsola, who is a member of the Expert Advisory Panel (EAP) of the NNRC, stated in a presentation he made at the meeting that most oil producing countries record just about 30 and 45 days of production downtime, and produce oil for an upward of about 330 days.
This, he explained, was not the case in Nigeria where he noted that frequent pipeline breakages and uncertainties in security of assets amongst other issues were responsible for the lengthy operational downtime the country currently records.
â€œYou can imagine being in business and you canâ€™t do anything for two years, and you have staff and you just pay them salaries for two years, you must be a generous NGO.
â€œIn terms of real operational shutdowns, we are seeing something between 80 and 160 days, which is not good,â€ said Olorunsola.
He further explained: â€œThere are operations around the world where production days, you can almost guarantee 330 days, you canâ€™t do all through the year because you have scheduled maintenance and all that, but usually it is not more than 30 and 45 days, anything more than that is not good.â€
The former director of the DPR indicated that there was a time the Trans Forcados oil pipeline was down for two years, shutting in production from oil fields. He also stated that in 2018 alone, some trunklines had been shut down for up to 84 days, thus impeding oil production.
He also spoke about the level of works done so far on the various bills created from the PIB, all of which include the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), Petroleum Industry Host Community Bill (PIHCB), Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB) and Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB).
On the PIGB, he explained that the bill, which is now reportedly with President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, has in it a philosophy that insists that holders of upstream oil block licences would either drill their oil blocks immediately or drop them for fresh awards.
Olorunsola also stated that the 1993 royalty concession given to operators in the countryâ€™s deepwater operations should not have been structured the way it was.
According to him, it should have been a suspended royalty structure and not the zero royalty that was granted to operators in deepwater oil operations.
Further, he noted that the National Assembly has created a fifth bill from the PIB to address issues of oil revenue management, but that the bill has been largely held back by the provisions of Nigeriaâ€™s constitution on revenue management.
â€œA lot of things around sharing money in our country is guided by the constitution. You canâ€™t write any bill that will override the constitution and this is the issue. There are certain things we wanted to put in this bill, but there was the talk that we should go and cure that in the constitution and then come back.
â€œCountries around the world have revenue management laws, and we just have to do it because it is the right thing to do,â€ he added.