Nigeria’s oil and gas business low in 2003

Jan 02, 2004 01:00 AM

Nigeria’s oil and gas sector was characterised by a low level of activities in the outgoing year, especially in the upstream sector. Although the fuel supply situation stabilised for much of the year, there was nothing much to cheer about in the industry as the sector recorded many undesirable incidents and developments.
For instance the year 2003 witnessed the shutting down of the Warri and Kaduna refineries for eight months, vandalism of crude and refined product pipelines, and hostage taking of oil workers. The industry was similarly rocked by allegations of missing money, massive sacking of workers and labour unrest occasioned by the implementation of the federal government's policy of deregulation.

A senior official of the oil and gas workers union claimed that the year 2003 was a bad one for the industry, especially with the disengagement of the Presidential aide on petroleum and energy, Dr Rilwanu Lukman, over "unpopular policies."
He said the industry in particular and the nationin general suffer a setback in the area of attracting investment into the sector, considering the dismal performance of the sector in the year under review. The year 2003 saw the exit of the "powerful" Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, over what was seen as misuse of funds in running the corporation.

The announcement of his replacement, in the person of Mr Funsho Kupolokun, an apostle of deregulation, was received by Nigerians with mixed feelings. While some hailed Kupolokun's appointment as the new GMD or NNPC, others criticised it. The critics are mainly the unemployed, artisans and other low income earners who regard the deregulation policy as an effort to strangulate them in order to make the rich richer.
A few weeks after the change of guards at the NNPC, the new helmsman presided over two remarkable events -- the lease-out of 24 marginal fields and the signing of three Production Sharing Contracts on OPL 245 and 342 (world class discoveries) with multinationals. The lastdays of the year also recorded exciting developments in the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ) where nine blocks were put on offer for exploration of hydrocarbon resources.

Kupolokun had said on resumption of office that the NNPC had entered a new era that would witness capacity building, both human and institutional, as a key to meeting the challenges which abound in the sector. He said he would build on the solid foundation laid in the last four years to expand the foreign exchange earning potential of the oil sector and enhance the nation's economic base. He said the new era would witness the development of marginal fields and the establishment of private refineries aimed at developing the capacity of local companies and meeting the rising demand for petroleum products.
In the last four years of democratic governance after a long spell of military dictatorship, the oil and gas industry has witnessed significant improvements. Since the current administration assumed office in May 1999, the sector has been vibrant with activities in both upstream and downstream segments.

Industry operators have placed the issue of indigenous participation in both the upstream and downstream subsectors on the front burner toward increasing local technological capacity and the general improvement of the economy. Crude oil production currently at over 2.2 mm bpd, up from about 1.9 mm bpd before 1999.
A cross-section of Nigerians attributed the unimpressive performance of the oil and gas industry in the outgoing year to the stodgy style of the former NNPC leadership. They, however, expressed optimism that the year 2004 would be an exciting one given the flavour of the new management.

Source: Daily Champion
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