Oil and gas operators in Nigeria have raised concerns on the anticipated negative impact of the duplication of the ministry of petroleum on their operations and investment decision making.
President Bola Tinubu recently appointed two ministers of state for the ministry aside himself who is doubling as Nigeria’s minister of petroleum.
The president had appointed Senator Heineken Lokpobiri to oversee the oil sector and Ekperikpe Ekpo to superintendent the gas segment, both within the ministry, making it the first time Nigeria will have three ministers in the nation’s oil and gas resources at the highest level.
Concerned industry sources told THISDAY that such duplication of ministries would further escalate the confusion, bureaucratic bottlenecks and operational risks plaguing the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
They said they had expected the president to select from amongst the pool of knowledgeable and experienced experts in the oil industry that would hit the ground running right from day one instead of picking persons with no practical understanding of the operations of the sector, who will take one to two years learning on the job.
They argued that the appointment of two ministers of state for petroleum may lead to overlap issues, fight for territorial control and superiority contest between the two ministers of state.
They alluded to the inter-agency rivalry between the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), which began under former President Muhammadu Buhari and persisted under the current administration.
Another industry source at ExxonMobil, told THISDAY that the appointment of two ministers of state, excluding the president that is the minister of petroleum would further compound the issues operators have been contending with in the industry.
The source said the issues include having to deal with too many offices, officials and the associated bureaucratic bottlenecks.