President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday has stated that the target of his administration was to make the newly rechristened Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited the biggest and most capitalised oil company on the African continent.
Speaking at the Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES), formerly called the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), the president noted that having now become a limited liability company, the National Oil Company (NOC) would soon become a profit making organisation.
At the event tagged: “Revitalising The Industry: Future Fuels and Energy Transition”, President Buhari listed the successful award of 57 marginal fields, passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) as well as the declaration of the “Decade of Gas” as major milestones of his government.
The president who was represented by the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, described the feats as record-breaking, recalling that both the marginal fields bid round and the PIA surmounted over two-decade challenges in the doldrums.
He stated that the conclusion of the marginal fields bid round remained a big deal, even when the world was moving away from fossil fuels, because it gives Nigeria the opportunity to speed up its fossil fuel exploitation and make good use of the resources, rather than abandon them.
He added: “Crude oil prices are on the rise again after turning negative in April 2020. It is a great opportunity for us as a country.
With the PIA in place, there should be no excuses. The enabling investment environment which has been the bane of the industry has been taken care of by provisions in the PIA.
“There is now a level of certainty for the regulatory, administrative and fiscal framework and the legitimate grievances of host communities most impacted by activities of the industry has been addressed by the Act.
“The NNPCL is a limited liability company now and our target is to make it the biggest, the most capitalised and the most profitable company in the whole of Africa.”
Given the country’s potential of about 600 trillion cubic feet, he stated that natural gas has the enormous potential to diversify and grow Nigeria’s economy.
The president also unveiled Nigeria’s energy transition and net zero emission scheme with the announcement of the country’s $50 million investment in clean energy which included a plan to inject 20 million gas cylinders into the market.
He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the global net zero emission target.
Buhari, however, regretted Africa’s poor situation in energy accessibility and use, stating that the continent was bedeviled with energy poverty. Stressing that there was no need to panic, he stated that Nigeria was already building blocks that will ensure seamless energy transition as the country joins in the race for net zero carbon emission.
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari said the International Oil Companies (IOCs) that divest from Nigeria’s upstream sector must address issues of abandonment and decommissioning of oil assets.
Kyari told participants at the summit that while the country understands the right of companies to freely divest, it was however, critical to ensure that the right thing is done so as to avoid disruption.
He said issues and obligations related to abandonment and decommissioning must be fully addressed and discharged in line with global best practices, regulations, conventions, and laws.
The NNPC boss acknowledged the need for cleaner energy globally, but said that the African continent must shape its narrative to reflect on its realities, including the high level of energy poverty.
He explained that the NNPC was adopting various strategies towards the attainment of a carbon-neutral economy while ensuring that the industry remains viable.
In his remarks as a minister, Sylva stated that with the PIA in place, expectations were high for the future of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
“The PIA has indeed given the industry more clarity and certainty. The industry is poised to attract the huge investment needed to reposition the sector,” he said.
He emphasised that although Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in the energy transition race, it had resolved to deploy gas as a transition product to achieve cleaner fuels.