Experts in the oil and gas industry converged on Abuja Tuesday to deliberate on the imminent collapse in the oil and gas sector, stating that the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly was responsible.
The Convener of the “Save Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry” and former President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun stated that the current challenges of the Federal Government’s inability to finance cash-call obligations, falling oil reserves in the onshore oil fields, insecurity in the operating areas and lack of effective mechanisms to monitor government stake in the Joint Venture arrangements were inimical to smooth running of the industry.
Dr. Ogbeifun who spoke at the maiden edition of Save Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry under the auspices of African Initiative for Transparency, Accountability and Responsible Leadership (AFRITAL) lamented that 16 years after the oil and gas implementation committee (OGIC) was set up to reform the sector, Nigeria has no political will to pass the PIB for better performance and efficiency.
He said that the current transformation initiatives can only be meaningful if obsolete and out-dated laws were done away with in accordance with international best practices, stressing that operations in the industry is to say the least opaque and lacking in transparency and accountability.
Dr. Ogbeifun also noted that divergent interests on the part of government and the International Oil Companies (IOCs) contribute in no small measure to the slow pace of growth in the industry, stressing that while government is encouraging participation of indigenous companies for domestication of expertise, the IOCs are busy guarding their technologies and expertise from any perceived competition including the host country.
Also speaking at the occasion, President, and Director General of International Institute of Leadership and Governance, Dr. Paddy Njoku said the ‘preponderance of expatriate workers has resulted in a paucity of jobs, skills development, capacity building and utilization for the indigenous workforce and in the long run, a lack of sustained national economic development.
While lauding the passage of the Local Content Act, he advised governmet to continually collaborate with industry stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the Act.
On his part, the President of Trade Union Congress(TUC) Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama enumerated woes that would befall the country and its citizens should the sector collapse but proffered solutions.
Among the solutions include but not limited to security, illicit practice by multi-nationals who should be compelled to up-grade their machinery and equipment, stiffer penalties for pipeline vandals, total and regular maintenance of refineries, and oil and gas firms should have easy access to foreign exchange.