Forging Alliance for Oil Sector Growth

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Timipre Sylva

Peter Uzoho

Since the emergence of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, at the helm of affairs in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, they have continued to work in harmony in promoting policies and initiatives that would improve the sector.

This was demonstrated last week, when both men led indigenous oil producing partners under the aegis of Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG) to present six Toyota ambulances and other medical equipment and consumables to the six states of the South-west geopolitical zones.

The donation was part of contribution in support of the ongoing Oil and Gas Industry Intervention Initiative on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The items included six Toyota ambulances, 2,500 respiratory face masks, 5,000 pieces of safety googles, 5,000 pieces of protective body suits, and 10, 000 respiratory masks.

Speaking at the occasion, Sylva said the gesture was a continuation of the industry’s intervention to combat the COVID-19 pandemic across the country, stating that the items were being distributed to more states that were being affected by the pandemic.

“Today, NNPC and its partners under the umbrella of the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), Chevron Nigeria Limited and Delta Deck Offshore are distributing the following items to more states that are most affected by the pandemic in the South-west geopolitical zones.

“That is, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti States. Six Toyota ambulances, 2,500 respiratory face masks, 5,000 pieces of safety googles, 5,000 pieces of protective body suits, and 10, 000 respiratory masks.
“Already, seven vehicles have been provided to Lagos and Rivers State by the NNPC-Shell Joint Venture to support the important part of contact tracing. Considering supply chain constraints, all committed items cannot be delivered and distributed on the same day,” he said.

According to Sylva, the NNPC and partners would continue to distribute consignment of medical consumables, equipment and logistic facilities across all the states in the coming days.

Similar items have also been delivered to Kano, Katsina States.
Sylva also said in line with the Oil and Gas Intervention Initiative’s plan of establishing permanent and sustainable medical infrastructure in each of the geopolitical zones in the coming days, the industry would be conducting a groundbreaking activity for the building of emergency and infectious diseases hospitals in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

On his part Kyari, who reiterated that the industry needed to embrace cost-cutting measures to surmount the current crisis in the global oil market, assured the oil industry would survive because of its resilient nature.
“You know this is a very resilient industry, it adjusts to every situation. One of the things this industry does is to cut down cost and increase production.

“But when you increase production today there is nowhere to take it to, you also cut down supply so that at the end of the day you are able to balance your books, you maintain your basic services, you shift your budget forward and ultimately so that you don’t get grounded.

“But this is a very resilient industry. We are engaging our partners to make sure that we survive this through this and of course, as the minister has said, this country depends so much on the oil and gas industry, and it is our duty to make sure that this operation continues, revenues continue to flow and that we are able to keep this country going,” Kyari said.

Beyond the collective fight against the COVID-19, which the oil and gas industry has continued to champion through the leadership displayed by Sylva and Mele Kyari, both of them have continued to collaborate on ways of improving the oil and gas sector.

This, was visible during the launch of the ‘Operation White,’ the TAPE agenda, amongst other initiatives in the industry.
The Operation White is a critical transparency initiative made up of an 89-man monitoring team for the tracking of movement of petroleum products in and out of the country including importation and distribution.

Sylva, while launching the project in Lagos, had said the initiative was geared towards ensuring transparency and accountability of petroleum product supply and distribution in Nigeria, especially premium motor spirit (PMS).
The minister said the essence was to entrench energy security and deepen the drive for transparency in the downstream operations.

He added that the strategic initiative was aimed at deploying adequate measures to ensure that all molecules of regulated petroleum products imported by the NNPC were well accounted for and utilised in-country.
Sylva noted that the NNPC had continued to record excellent performance in product supply and distribution to the nation, saying “it is doing what it is supposed to do as supplier of last resort, but the reality is the nation bears a great cost in terms of absorbing the shocks of differences in cost.

“It is critical that all hands be put on deck to ensure that every molecule of product imported into this country is utilised within the borders of this nation for the benefit of the Nigerian populace. This is a national imperative and a core thrust of Mr. President’s mandate for leadership of the oil and gas industry.

“Therefore, the task for us is to ensure that the petroleum products supply and distribution chain in Nigeria is completely devoid of illicit practices including oil theft, diversion and smuggling of petroleum products, which constitute economic sabotage and hemorrhage of the national revenue through high cost of under recovery.”

He maintained that, “to do this certainly requires diligence, commitment, courage and robust partnership amongst various downstream stakeholders. There is also a dire need to instill an improved culture of transparency, accountability and efficiency in the industry, streamline our operations along best practices by championing and implementing strategic reforms at every layer of the supply and distribution chain.”

The minister, who was represented at the occasion by the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Mr. Ahmed Boboi, however, expressed his optimism that the gains of the Operation White Project will reduce the inflated product consumption figure and ultimately reduce the subsidy wage bill.

He explained: “The government will not relent on the sustenance of the programme. A team of 89 persons drawn from five key agencies has been mandated to ensure transparency and accountability in the distribution of petroleum products across the country.

“In addition, they will authenticate actual volumes of products imported and consumed; ensure the nation attains energy security; reduce diversion of PMS and stop financial hemorrhage; improve downstream operations and create commercial opportunities.”
According to him, tracking of products and clean-up of illegal stations would continue and adequately supported with modern technology.

He said the government was also committed to refurbishing the existing refineries to achieve full capacity operation, adding that work had already begun at the Port Harcourt Refinery.
Sylva said the government would also aggressively promote the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which would have a positive impact on the downstream sector by ensuring regulatory enforcement and better relation among all stakeholders.

“We will actively collaborate with the private sector to create a large number of well-paying jobs for Nigerian youths.
“These and various others are the policy direction aimed at repositioning the downstream sector of the petroleum industry in Nigeria,” he added.

Also, charged the team to deliver on the onerous national assignment of controlling leakages of petroleum products, especially petrol, adding that they have no option but to succeed.

Kyari said that ‘Operation White’ would monitor and track every molecule of petroleum products imported into the country and follow it through to the pump, pointing out that the NNPC was poised to support the federal government in its quest to guaranteeing energy security for the country.

He said that “The selection of ‘Operation White’ team was very thorough and people of great competence and high level of integrity were head-hunted for this national assignment. Today, we are good to go and we will see our transaction end-to-end as is the case in other countries.

“We are poised to support the minister to ensure that energy security is guaranteed for our dear country, so that our principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, would be proud of us.”
The GMD also encouraged the members of the team to deliver on the national assignment with a deepened sense of patriotism and excellence, assuring that the project will monitor and track the entire movement of petroleum products and enshrine visible transparency across the value chain.

This robust alliance has also been demonstrated under Melee Kyari’s blueprint known as Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE), as he has continued to partner with the minister on the initiatives.
This aims at maintaining positive image, share values of integrity and transparency to all stakeholders, the accountability leg of the campaign would assure compliance with business ethics, policies, regulations and accountability to all stakeholders.