Stories by Dirisu Yakubu with agency reports
Fresh move to unveil a new gas master plan to drive Nigeria’s industrial growth is underway, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said.
The minister, who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday (Thursday) while speaking at the fifth triennial national delegates’ conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), said that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the masterplan after its meeting following his presentation.
“I am just coming back from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting where I made a presentation on gas policy and the document was approved today. We need major changes in policy to make gas a hub of our economy. We must have a stream of earning between petroleum and gas in order to see an improvement in our economy or see the opportunities we are supposed to reap from the oil and gas sector. So, a lot need to happen in the midstream and upstream.
“Gas development remains the new horizon for opportunity. There is so much happening that needs to happen that should have happened yesterday and not begin to happen now in the gas sector. Gas is the future of this country in terms of infrastructure, support, members of staff training and re-training,” Kachikwu said.
The minister declared that the oil and gas is changing for good with the tumbling of prices below $46 despite the intervention of the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC).
He noted that Nigerians must work inclusively to deal with the difficulties that are happening in the industry whether militancy, slow speed of approvals and policies that must now move as fast as they should.
The Minister further said no attempt had been made to sell the nation’s refineries, saying that, “On the refineries, there has been no attempt, no approval to concession refineries or sell. What we have approval for is to bring financing mechanisms that enable us to find the resource to upgrade the refineries.”
In their present epileptic nature, they would probably be obsolete in the next three to four years. The reality is that once the private sector players begin to build their own refineries, whatever we think we are concessioning, will disappear. Unless we move very quickly to reposition those refineries in such a way that they can compete, we would lose the refineries completely.”
He said the financing mechanisms for the refineries would pass through the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in a competitive and transparent manner, adding that all the processes would be done with the management of the refineries and NNPC in place.
In another development, the President of PENGASSAN, Olabode Johnson, who lauded the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) by the Senate, urged the National Assembly to ensure that the remaining parts of the original PIB are passed to make Nigeria enjoy optimal benefit from its hydrocarbon resources.
The union said though it supports the initiative of the Federal Government to bring investors to revamp the refineries, it must open its books up to be accessed by all the stakeholders before decisions are made.
He added: “We seek that PENGASSAN and NUPENG should be carried along at all stages of the process to ensure that labour-related issues and job security is guaranteed. While we await the direction of the investors in the three refineries, we call on government to ensure immediate rehabilitation of obsolete equipment in the plants.