AS the nation clocks 60, key players in the oil and gas industry say full deregulation of the sector and deepening of gas utilisation will help Nigeria actualise her full potentialities.
The stakeholders spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Nigeria clocks 60 on Oct. 1.
The stakeholders also called for the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and increased Public-Private Partnership (PPP) toward repositioning the sector.
Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) said the removal of petrol subsidy and the full deregulation of the industry was needed to attract investors.
Okoronkwo commended the Federal Government’s courage in removing subsidy on petrol, noting that this had encouraged investment in modular refineries.
“Subsidy is one of the things holding the industry down and it is obvious that the country does not have the funds to continue to subsidise petrol.
“What has happened is that a lot of people are now coming into refining.
“A few weeks ago, we saw that Walter Smith refinery in Imo was almost ready; another one is coming up in Bayelsa while Dangote Refinery in Lagos is nearing completion.
“Also, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has started the move to bring in private investors so that they can help in reviving the four moribund refineries.
“I see a situation that rather than importing petroleum, we will be a net exporter in a few years’ time,’’ the IPMAN president said.
He lauded the government’s plan to increase domestic gas utilisation, which he said was also vital to make-up for the lost years that the country had focused mainly on petroleum.
“Moving forward, I think the country is beginning to get things right.
“We are developing the gas sector, which I think will be the anchor that will help this country regain its economic direction,” he said.
With such step, he said a lot of things would happen, both in terms of pharmaceutical, agriculture, textile and other industries that would begin to blossom again.
“We have abundant gas to turn things around and government has started working on that.
“They have been meeting stakeholders and have prepared the ground on how gas can now be utilised for vehicles, generators and other domestic uses.
“Gas is cheaper and environmentally friendly. So, the future will be very bright if we as a nation are able to access cheaper energy,’’ Okoronkwo said.
Also dwelling on the removal of petrol subsidy, Mr Tunji Oyebanji, Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), said it was one of the steps that industry stakeholders had been clamouring for.
Oyebanji said that the country was broke and could no longer afford subsidy and there was no provision for it in the budget.
With this, the incentive for smuggling will be reduced, while more funds will be available to the government for investment in infrastructure, roads, health, education and power,’’ he said.
He also commended the government for creating the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP), which according to him, had already began the implementation of reforms and policies to deepen the domestic gas market.
Oyebanji said MOMAN was in support of the autogas policy of the government because it was a cheaper alternative to petrol and would also create a lot of jobs for Nigerians.
Mr Wilson Opuwei, the Chief Executive Officer, Dateline Energy Services Limited, spoke in line with Oyebanji’s view, saying that the removal of petrol subsidy was inevitable because it only favoured a few Nigerian elites.
Opuwei noted that what government was trying to do was to take those funds to other sectors and help develop infrastructure.
According to him it also frees government from trying to balance the price fluctuation of crude oil at the international market.
“Ultimately, that is going to happen,’’ he said.
He, however, urged the government to create an enabling environment through legislation and policies such as the Petroleum Industry Bill to encourage investments, particularly in the exploration and production areas of the sector.
Opuwei said: “Government should learn to enter into Public-Private Partnerships with both local and international entities who have the capacity and are ready to invest in our oil and gas sector.
“Government should identify such entities and create a mutually beneficial working relationship with them.
“They will, in turn, bring their international experience, expertise and technology transfer to the nation.’’
Meanwhile, Mr Justice Derefaka, Technical Adviser on Gas Business and Policy Implementation to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources said the government’s focus on gas was deliberate and in line with national development.
Derefaka told NAN that this was the rationale behind the declaration of the year 2020 as the ‘Year of Gas’.
He stressed that various policies and programmes were being implemented towards achieving that objective.
The technical adviser said the programmes include the inauguration of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) committee, the National Gas Transportation Network Code, ongoing Marginal Field Bid Round and the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline.
“Nigeria needs to use gas and invest in critical sectors of our economy like education, health, infrastructure and agriculture to provide a solid base for industrialisation, local value addition, economic development and sustainable growth.
“Gas has a leading role as a key enabler to the diversification and growth of Nigeria’s broader economy through adequate power generation, provision of feedstock for value-addition in manufacturing and increased government revenue from Liquefied Natural Gas,’’ he said.
– Sept. 29, 2020 @ 18:05 GMT