Stakeholders canvass for transparency, reforms in oil policy

Stakeholders in the oil and gas industries on Wednesday said transparency and investor-friendly policies will clear the irregularities in the sector.

The stakeholders said this in Abuja at a two-day stakeholder consultation on draft National Gas Policy and National Oil Policy.

The Special Technical Assistant to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr Gbite Adeniji, said though one policy was tendered in 2005, this new law would address future operations in the sector.

He told the stakeholders to look at the proposal around thematic issues, make comments/observations and see how the discussion would be built into the proposal.

He said in a few days, the final document would be presented to the Federal Executive Council (which sits on Wednesdays).

“There should be transparency of regulation policy, contracts procurement and license awards and renewal. Reducing duplication of functions is also important.

“There is a need to be investor-friendly and recognise there’s boundary to responsible behaviour by government,’’ Adeniji said.

He advised that in the downstream sector, the short term objective could be to produce fuels and petro-chemicals that were competitive against imports.

He also said the longer term objective would encourage competitiveness for the nation as an exporter of the products.

On the issue of oilfield security, Adeniji said it was time for the nation to build a digital oilfield.

“Oil companies should be charged with the electronic surveillance,’’ he said.

During the panel discussions, Mr Isa Bala, the Director (Upstream) in the Ministry said transparency was a big issue.

“When our system  is  transparent, when you don’t shroud processes, players will come in. On the issue of insecurity, only in the Niger Delta do we hear issues of vandalism and insecurity.

“It is sad to note that a report said more than N1 trillion has been spent on the region but we have nothing to show for that,’’ he said.

Contributing, Mr Bola Adeyemi-Bero, an oil industry expert and discussant at the conference, told the audience that the nation was still in this quagmire “because we have consumed our resources. Norway, Saudi Arabia don’t spend their excess crude accounts.

“If we produce three million barrels per day, we may run out of oil in 30 years. We have not thought of generations unborn.

“If the policy aims at 15 million barrels per day we’ve missed it. We need to get out of oil.

“Ivory Coast gets six billion dollars yearly from exporting cocoa while Switzerland gets 60 billion dollars yearly from exporting chocolates’’.

Adeyemi Bero said the industry must generate a massive value chain that would be sustainable in the short, medium and long terms.

“FX can generate foreign revenue. We also need to generate revenue to sort things like insecurity and unemployment in the Niger Delta,’’ he said.

Other speakers at the event were drawn from various industry players in the sector.