*As NNPC Advocates Closer Ties among African Countries in Oil Sector
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has assured the readiness of the country to accommodate investments and to provide leadership for Africa in oil and gas.
The President gave the assurance Monday, in Abuja while declaring open the first-ever Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS).The theme of this year’s conference is: “Leading Africa’s Response to Global Oil and Gas Challenges.”
This is even as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has called for closer collaboration among African nations not only in oil and gas but across all sectors to leapfrog the economies in the continent.
Buhari said that the summit, designed to be Africa’s largest and most important platform and linkage to the world, was fashioned after the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) where technological breakthroughs were unveiled.
According to the President, “NIPS is also designed after the OTC in Houston to deepen, enrich and provide leadership for Africa and make it one of the most important annual oil and gas events globally.
“It is aimed at engendering potentially-economic benefits, generate employment and expand businesses in Nigeria and Africa.
“This summit will afford Nigeria a unique opportunity to showcase to the international community policy direction and efforts of government in the petroleum sector.
“This is especially in the new oil and gas exploration and markets, new measures to sanitise the sector, the expansion of investment opportunities to boost investors’ confidence, technological advancement and Nigeria’s content development.
“Nigeria is open to private investment in the downstream sector and pursuing vigorously a programme for the rehabilitation of existing refineries so as to enhance capacity to supply locally-refined petroleum products in Nigeria and West Africa.”
The President said this was a key component of the national petroleum industry roadmap and the 2017 to 2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the present administration.
He said since the launch of the petroleum industry roadmap and ERGP, numerous successes had been recorded, especially in getting Nigeria out of recession and sustained increase in foreign reserves.
“We will continue to strive to achieve our target of seven per cent GDP growth rate within the next three years and be rest assured that previous efforts will be sustained.
“Our effort in stakeholder engagement and stabilising the Niger Delta will continue to receive due attention to ensure sustainable level of production, Buhari added.
On ease of doing business, the President said he would continue to ensure that efforts in the petroleum sector and issues related to transparency, efficiency, enabling business environment and deploying new policies and regulations were enforced “so that investors will always feel at ease.
He said: “Corruption in this industry must not be allowed in any form. On our part, we will not stop the fight until a new image is created where transparency will be the watchword in all our transactions.
“Our emphasis on gas investment is for cleaner economy that is gas-based in alignment with the Paris climate change agreement.
“The agenda for this summit portrays opportunities for all, hence we should do more than just talk about it, we should also act on the resolutions from here.”
The maiden NIPS is a five-day event and has stakeholders from the oil and gas sector and from parts of Africa in attendance.
Meanwhile, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, in a goodwill message challenged the participants to come up with practicable solutions to effectively develop Africa’s hydrocarbon resources, saying that discussions and interests alike would stir up strategies and actionable items that would crystalize into a veritable roadmap for the energy future of the African continent.
“Our expectation is that at the end of this summit a communique will be issued out as action points for current and potential African oil and gas countries for better collaboration and development,” Dr. Baru stated.
According to him, discussions were expected to cut across the industry value chain with focus on deepening collaboration across and within the African oil and gas space; modern technologies in the industry; innovative strategies to survive after a global downturn; current trends in the oil and gas markets; gas to power; prospects and opportunities; policy and regulation; sustainable socio-economic development of the Niger Delta; as well as lessons learnt so far from the Nigerian experience.
Dr. Baru pledged the support of the NNPC to nurture the summit into a full-fledged international summit like the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) held in Houston, USA and Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference held annually in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
He applauded the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, for working tirelessly and for ensuring the fruition of the summit, stressing that his good works would not go unnoticed.
The GMD noted that NIPS was expected to be Africa’s largest and most important industry platform and linkage to the world, adding that after six decades of petroleum exploration and exploitation in Nigeria, the summit was long overdue.