By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
The Federal government of Nigeria has called on African countries to work together so as to surmount the numerous challenges facing the oil markets in the continent.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo made this call on Thursday in Abuja at the closing ceremony of the inaugural Nigeria International Petroleum Summit(NIPS) which held from the 19th to the 22nd of February.
Osinbajo who stated that the oil markets in Africa are facing numerous challenges currently, added that these challenges can not be addressed successfully solely by countries taking independent decisions.
He however emphasized that collaborations, synergies and knowledge sharing are critical. “For us in Africa we have to work hard to make the best of our God-given resources before it’s too late. Together we can surmount our hurdles faster, not if we try to do so individually. I should like to assure our oil and gas operators of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s commitment to creating the enabling environment for the industry to achieve its destiny in Africa.
“The increasing number of African countries joining the league of oil producing states calls for greater cooperation amongst the old and the new in the industry. With the largest proven gas reserves in Africa and the seventh largest in the world, with over 38 billion barrels of oil reserves and a daily production in excess of two million barrels, and the continent’s largest concentration of skilled manpower for the oil and gas industry built over 30 years, naturally Nigeria’s experiences can be useful to other African countries” he said.
While speaking on the success of the inaugural NIPS, he said “I believe this first summit has set the foundation for the achievement of the objectives of its founding fathers, namely to create a hub of Africa’s oil and gas activities of the African continent. I’m told, that participation has been well over 1,000 delegates, exhibitors and visitors from over 32 countries of Africa and outside the continent.
“Furthermore, this summit has laid a solid foundation for encouraging the growth of local content in the African oil and gas industry, and to provide a forum for the display of the progress that Africa is making in the field of oil and gas technology” he added.
Earlier in his remark, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu noted that to surmount the challenges facing Nigeria’s oil sector, factors such as; establishing regulatory and legislative certainty, transparency, investment, Security, cost and more should be urgently implemented.
According to him, “We must very quickly establish regulatory and legislative certainty. Whatever it is you do with the PIB, various arms of it should be done and dusted with so that investors can have clarity in terms of where they can underpin their investments.
“Transparency is key. We continue to have the negative vibe in transparency despite all that has been done in the oil industry. What it says to us is that something must still be missing. Every average Nigerian says the oil industry is not transparent. Given the fact that the cardinal focus of this administration is anti corruption, we must ensure that whatever we do, we must give serious attentions to transparency. When we are transparent, investors get a lot confident and are able to come in droves.
While talking on investment, he noted that an estimated $100 billion worth of investment is needed to drive the oil sector
“Those investments will go into gas projects, they will go into pipelines that have be replaced, they will go into new plants, they will go into the flare policy of the government, they will go into the development of LPGs and CNGs. We need to begin to convert our petrol consumption cars to gas and electricity driven cars so we can avoid some of the embarrassments we have in terms of our supply needs” he said.
On the forecast for the future, Kachikwu said. “Over the next five years, first we will like to look at the production volumes. We are targeting about 3 million barrels over the next five years and the projects that we have on ground can get us there, so whatever we need to do, we need to ensure that the capital that is available to drive this is sucked out by other investments in the sector.
“Pipeline replacement is key, we must be able to distribute in a professional and unhindered manner all over the country.
“The future is promising, lots of opportunities and lots of energies that will be getting off the ground. There is going to be challenges, fiscal issues that need to be addressed to empower everybody to invest. The oil sector provides a catalyst to diversify this economy.
“Africa and African market is very key for us, as we begin to get into the way regional markets becomes very protected – the Gulf coming together, America begin to pursue becoming self sufficient, the African market holds the potential for us, whether in refined petroleum products or transfer of technology and skill sets, whether it is in taking of advantages by local Nigerian companies, we need to begin to protect the African market and utilise it to its full potentials, he advised.
In her vote of thanks, the permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Essan, said that the meeting will herald a new era of hope and life for Africa’s petroleum industry and its entire economy.
She further stated that Africa and Africans need to leverage on the capabilities and opportunities within as well as those outside, adding that African countries must look inward to tap their mineral resources to boost the economies of African countries.