Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government has expressed its preparedness to support 100 indigenous oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria to overcome their existing market challenges and grow to become big energy conglomerates.
It said this was part of its effort to improve indigenous participation in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry through a programme tagged: ‘Project 100’ that would see 100 wholly-owned and operated Nigerian companies receive capacity and financial support from the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed that the programme would among other things, seek to also develop next generation large-scale Nigerian oil and gas service companies through structured capacity building and policy intervention.
Kachikwu, at the unveiling of the programme and the first 60 benefiting companies, acknowledged that indigenous companies operating in Nigeria’s oil industry always contend with serious difficulties.
He explained that the logic behind the programme was to create opportunities for local companies by boosting their capacity and giving them access to existing markets.
The minister urged the selected firms to focus on growing their businesses, adding that the government would expect them to meet the objectives of the programme.
Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, explained at the event that the board would enhance the capacity of companies selected in the programme and help them financially through the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCIF).
According to Wabote, the programme will also “help them find opportunities in the industry in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary NAPIMS.”
He said it was “in our interest as a country to support companies operating in the oil and gas industry so that they can create jobs for our teeming population.”
Wabote explained that the selection of the companies was transparently executed from NCDMB’s platform-NOGICJQS with the assistance of KPMG, adding that another phase of selection is to be held in the coming weeks.
He stressed that the programme would allow medium-size Nigerian companies to grow into large businesses, adding that of the 8,000 indigenous companies registered on its portal, just 2527 companies were active.
According to him, the 60 companies were selected from these number after going through rigorous screening, noting that while the companies were eligible to access funding from the $200 million NCI
Fund domiciled at the Bank of Industry (BOI), another fund would be set up soon for them.
“Within the next couple of months, we will launch another financing scheme, perhaps without all the bottlenecks that we see today with the
BoI and these selected companies will be our focus areas and beneficiaries,” Wabote added.