*FG: Nigeria’s oil sector still dominated by foreigners despite govt’s efforts
*NEPL targets 60 additional oil wells by 2024
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa
Oil and gas investment opportunities valued over $50 billion and projected to be developed within five years were showcased by international and indigenous companies at the 2023 Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair (NOGOF) organised by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, that ended last Friday.
Speaking at the conclusion of the two-day fair which drew 1,086 participants, the Executive Secretary NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, stated that the quantum of opportunities covered different segments of the industry and required proper collation as they run into billions of dollars.
However, the federal government at the fair, lamented that despite efforts to increase the level of domesticate firms’ participation in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, the sector still remains largely dominated by foreign entities.
But the trend disclosed by the federal government may be reversed as Wabote, pointed out that, “some of the opportunities are from the indigenous players, some by NNPC Ltd and the international oil companies. If you put them together, in the next five years, they would exceed $50 billion that would be invested in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.”
Listing a few of the opportunities and their values, he said: “Bonga Southwest which Shell talked about is almost about $7bn to $8bn. Shell also talked about Bonga North which they might take final investment decisions (FID) early next year and is almost $3bn.”
On steps to be taken by interested service companies and other players to participate effectively in the projects and investment opportunities, Wabote charged such them to prepare themselves adequately, restating that the oil and gas industry was highly technical and does not compromise safety and standards.
He added: “If someone gives you projects he intends to execute in the next two years; Nigerian companies having listened to the opportunities should go back and continue to build their capacities in readiness to actively participate.”
He also counseled that the oil and gas sector was not an environment where an entrepreneur could immediately step in and achieve success, saying, “you must have staying power to succeed.”
The NCDMB helmsman promised that the Board would collate the investment opportunities into a compendium and make them available to registered participants.
He stressed that the Board tracks development of the investment opportunities showcased at every edition of NOGOF.
Providing an update of projects shared at previous editions, he hinted that, “most of them have come to fruition, others are challenged by security concerns, final investment decisions (FID) challenges, bankability, and regulatory requirements and approvals.
But those that have crossed the hurdles have been developed and are producing today.”
He added: “We shared Ikike and today it is almost doing 50,000 barrels per day; we shared Nigeria LNG Train 7 almost 6 years ago and today it is in full steam, hoping to be completed in 2026. We shared the upstream opportunities that will feed into Train 7, HI, HA and Obeta projects. This has been a tremendous success by NCDMB.”
On other conditions necessary for the speedy development of oil industry projects, Wabote canvassed for the eradication of policy inconsistencies. He advised other regulatory bodies in the industry to conclude the formulation and release of key regulations that will serve as subsidiary legislations of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), to give investors the necessary confidence to move ahead.
He equally challenged relevant agencies to address the worrisome security challenges, particularly the wanton crude oil theft in the Niger Delta. This, according to him, would enable the production of hydrocarbons at reasonable costs and profitability.
He regretted that most indigenous operators were unable to evacuate their crude oil through pipelines for over one year and are now forced to explore alternative options at high costs.
Speaking further, the NCDMB boss affirmed that Nigerian content has come of age, recalling the past when expatriates dominated major operations and events of the industry and Nigerians played second fiddle.
He expressed delight that indigenous firms have become highly competitive and dominant in the service sub-sector – upstream, midstream and downstream.
The 4th edition of the fair was attended by leaders of the oil and gas industry, including the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, chief executives of several international and indigenous operating and service oil and gas companies and other stakeholders.
It featured opportunities and technical sessions in which representatives of several operating and service companies and regulatory agencies made presentation on the plans and projects among others.
Meanwhile, the federal government has lamented that despite efforts at the domestication of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, it was still largely dominated by foreign entities.
Also speaking at the NOGOF 2023, the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, who was a guest at the event, noted that for Nigeria to gain from its resources, it must ensure domestication and value-addition.
However, THISDAY recalls that since the enactment of the Local Content Act in 2010, Nigeria has made steady progress from 5 per cent to about 54 per cent in recent times, in terms of in-country expertise and is set to hit 70 per cent in 2027.
Aregbesola, who was represented by the Comptroller of Corrections, Nigerian Correctional Service, Rivers State, Felix Lawrence, stressed that Nigeria must therefore take research in the oil and gas industry seriously, before the expected extinction of fossil fuels.
“Oil is a dominant player in the nation’s economy. Sadly, we have not gone far in the domestication and ownership of this major industry and we have not been able to leverage it for industrialisation or economic development that oil should have brought.
“In spite of all the effort of the government, the sector is still dominated by foreign firms in exploration and extraction and refining. With Nigeria just at the level of services and marketing, the bulk of the petroleum products, including lubricants, is largely imported within the value-added chain.
“The time has come for Nigeria’s stakeholders and the oil industry to begin to take ownership to domesticate every aspect of the industry, technology and the requisite knowledge base. Our indigenous companies should begin to invest in acquisition, technology processing and research in all aspects of petroleum,” he stated.
The research institutes, Aregbesola maintained, should be well funded, not by governments alone, but by other stakeholders who should also ponder over how to expand the knowledge base and create or adapt specific technology to Nigeria’s specific needs in the oil industry.
“The oil industry should get off the dependency syndrome. Yes, we welcome foreign players. We want more investors, but we should be in the driver’s seat because it is to own gain. We should not only take our destiny in our hands, we should dominate the oil and gas industry in Sub-Saharan Africa. We should deploy gas to produce electricity for domestic consumption.
“And we will be making 10 times revenue on finished products than on primary products, which will create more wealth and prosperity for the nation.
“Lastly, as the world transitions to electric motor vehicles, we should also be able to plan for the alternative use of oil in a way that will not disrupt our economy and when the day eventually arrives, we should be able to have an alternative,” he noted.
Also speaking on a panel at the three-day event, the Executive Vice President, Gas, Power and New Energy, NNPC, Mohammed Ahmed, when questioned on the state of the federal government’s autogas scheme, urged Nigerians to approach the government for answers.
He argued that post-Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the NNPC is now a limited liability company and is not in a position to speak for the federal government on the autogas programme.
On December 1, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the National Autogas Scheme, promising Nigerians that the nation had finally made an alternative move to maximise its rich natural gas reserves by enhancing in-country consumption.
According to the president, by 2021, the country would have converted 1 million cars to cushion the impact of petroleum subsidy removal, which the government said, has gulped trillions of naira.
But hopes that the scheme would succeed have since dimmed, as not much has been heard about it. In all, it was supposed to create about 12.5 million direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
“To the point of autogas, nothing has stopped, it’s work in progress. Its people like you who are supposed to invest that are not investing. If you can establish a conversion field, then people are ready to supply the gas. But when you do not have the infrastructure, it won’t be built.
“I also want to put it on record, the NNPC of pre-PIA is not the NNPC of today. Yesterday it was NNPC, today it is NNPCL. What does that mean? It means we are now a Limited Liability Company.
“A limited liability cannot speak on behalf of the government. So, I believe that if you want to get good clarification on some of these challenges, the appropriate channel would be the ministry of petroleum resources,” he said.
He added: “But to assuage your fears, the vehicles that were promised to be brought in have to be manufactured and I believe that everything is being done about that. By and large, note that subsidy or no subsidy, we need to migrate to the use of gas.
“Simply put, the federal government cannot continue to pay for your fuel and I can say this comfortably that it is your fuel, not for those in the villages because they do not have two to three cars. So, who are we subsidising? he queried.
Also, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Exploration and Production Company (NEPL), an NNPC subsidiary, Ali Zarah, said the unit was focusing on delivering 60 oil wells between 2023 and 2024.
He explained that there are now local companies taking over from their foreign counterparts, thanks to the NCDMB, stressing that the organisation will continue to support the activities of the local content board.
“Our drilling campaign alone, we are going to deliver over 60 wells between now and 2024. This creates opportunities for rig provision, ancillary services and a host of other things to do,” he noted.
He further stressed that the NEPL has continued to empower its host communities, and now operates safely while observing all environmental regulations.