Nigeria Assembly Insists Nigeria Remains a Viable Business Environment

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By Oge Obi

The third edition of Nigeria Assembly, an annual convergence of policymakers, industry players and experts, investors as well as other stakeholders in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, x-raying the industry from different angles and considering its unique challenges have said that inspite of all, Nigeria remains an investment haven for all classes of investors in the sector.

Looking at the current status of Nigerian oil and gas sector, the Assembly, however, noted that there is still work to be done in terms of in-country infrastructure, petroleum policy legislation, collaboration among stakeholders, among others.

The topics that were discussed during the two-day event included ‘the Current Climate for Investment, Exploration and Production in Nigeria?’; ‘Appetite for International Investment into the Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector’; ‘Aims and Desired Impact of PIGB National Gas Policy and the Petroleum Policy’; Reactions from the Industry on PIGB, National Gas & Petroleum Policy; Collaboration to Ensure Efficiency and Profitability; Monetising Gas: Overcoming Current Challenges, among others.

In one of the sessions that focused on the appetite for international investment into the Nigerian oil and Gas sector and moderated by an industry analyst, Dr. Ifunanya Nwokedi, the discussants said that Nigeria still remains a prospect for international investment. Adding that more work needs to be done in areas like in-country infrastructure, collaboration among government agencies and ministries and making the PIB work in reality.

According to the industry analyst, “There has to be an open communication or else when there is poor and insufficient communication, what you find is that investors are being scared away.

“For an environment like Nigeria’s that is not very stable, investors want to make want a guarantee that the risk that they are taking coming to Nigeria will actually yield them a tangible benefit”, she said.

Also speaking during the panel that looked at how oil and gas companies and local banks can secure international investment, the Executive Director, Natural Resources, JP Morgan, Paul Van Zijl, revealed that inspite of Nigeria’s huge resources, investors are still scared of committing much money into the country owing to some bottlenecks around policy approvals and implementation.

According to Zijl, “why should I wait for your policy trends which take a long period of time to be approved when I can as well invest in another African country without much delay in execution?”

“Although we have all the resources, Nigeria is perceived as a difficult place to work. The ease of doing business should be worked upon,” he added.

The African Portfolio Manager, Alex Bell in her opening remarks, had noted that since the 2014 oil market crash, the Nigerian oil and gas sector has been somewhat overwhelmed by challenges that elongated the negative impact of the crisis. And that as the market takes a turn for the better “with the oil price slowly and steadily rising, investors are revisiting investing into the Nigerian upstream oil and gas sector.”

In a chat with Orient Energy Review, Alex disclosed that realizing the predominant role of Nigeria in the oil and gas business, the organizers changed the conference from West African Assembly to Nigeria Assembly. According to the Alex, “We need to have an honest discussion about why people are investing in Nigeria and how we can improve on that; to highlight those things people are doing and winning investments.

“What is really interesting about this year’s conference is that it is a turning point. I think people are really waking up realizing and demonstrating that they are open to investment and are willing to make changes to help investors relax.

The panelists at the Nigeria Assembly included; Ademola Adeyemi – Nero, Managing Director, First E & P, Lekan Akinyanmi, CEO, Lekoil, Frank Edozie, CEO, Neconde Energy, Richard Turner, CFO, Jagal Group, Oliver Andrew’s, CIO, Africa Finance Corporation, Eme Essien Lore, Country Manager, IFC, Adebayo Kareem, Principal Partner, The Carlyle Group, Vincent Gueneau, Chairman Kappafrik, Dada Thomas, CEO Frontier Oil, Gbenga Olawepo, Chairman Transitional Energy and Sena Anthony Associates.

Other panelists were Valerio Coppini, Maire Tecnimont, Josh Egba, USTDA, Emeka Ene, Oil Data, Anthony Adebulugbe, Chairman Green Energy International, Olabode Sowunmi, Consultant to the Senate Committee on Gas and David Ige, CEO Gas Invest amongst others.

The 2017 edition of the Nigeria Assembly was jointly moderated by Chigozie Hilary, Partner, Stream Sowers & Kohn, International Media Personality, Wofai Samuel, Adeyemi Akisanya, Partner, Adeyemi Akinsanya & Associates and Ifunanya Nwokedi, Analyst US Government Accountability Office.

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