Buhari directs NNPC to partner indigenous oil and gas firms

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured indigenous companies operating in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector of the full support and protection of his administration.

At a meeting with members of the Independent Petroleum Producers Association in the Presidential Villa, on Wednesday, Buhari commended the determination to increase the participation of Nigerians in the country’s oil industry and promised to do all within his powers to address the challenges which they currently face.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the president  also directed the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to work more closely with the indigenous oil producers to resolve the problems which members of the group said were affecting their operations.
The president said: “We have the manpower for a more effective participation in our oil industry. We will give you all possible  encouragement. You certainly won’t be ignored under my leadership.”

The association comprises about  20 Nigerian companies operating mainly on onshore fields.

The president also assured the oil producers that his administration would take appropriate actions to maintain and enhance security in their areas of operation, noting that better security would help to lower production costs, which, he said had become unnecessarily high in the country.

Mr. Austin Avuru, who spoke on behalf of the producers, told the president of challenges currently being faced by the group such as security and funding of joint ventures with the NNPC.

He told the president that the indigenous oil producers were already making significant contributions to the development of the Nigerian economy and could do more with the support of the present administration.

After meeting with the president, Avuru spoke with journalists on behalf of the group.

He said the group projected that it would account for 30 per cent of daily crude oil production in Nigeria in the next five years.

Avuru, the Chief  Executive Officer of Seplat Petroleum, said the group was contributing 200,000 barrels per day to the country’s crude oil production.
Avuru said: “Presently, we are doing about 200,000 barrel per day production and growing. That is 10 per cent today. Just in the past five years, up from near zero, and we anticipate that in the next five years by 2020, we will account for 30 per cent production of about three million barrels per day, that is very significant especially when in addition to that we account for half of the total gas delivery (53 per cent) to the domestic market.”

He said they came to meet with the president because they shared his visions for the industry.

The meeting was also attended by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Coporation (NNPC), Dr Ibe Kachikwu

Avuru said it was necessary to meet the president because of developments in the oil and gas sector.According to him, key segments of the oil and gas industry, the onshore
segment and the swamp oil are now falling into the hands of Nigerian independent producers.

“Which is why in the past five years, we have made so much investment of over $9billion in just acquiring these assets and over $1billion each year in work programme investment and this is growing,” he added.

He said this segment of the industry was going to become a very critical partner to government particularly in the delivery of natural gas and other products into the domestic economy.

Avuru stated: “We called for the meeting because we realise we needed to engage with the president because we identify with all his policy direction.

“We realise we are very critical partners that he needs to know about and to engage with very early in the administration of the President. So we called for the meeting and he obliged us.

Avuru said the president was very receptive and promised that all the help and support the group needed to succeed as indigenous producers would be given to them.

He said indigenous producers would complement multinationals.

Avuru also said the issue of building private refineries was also discussed with the president.

He said: ”It was one of the points we raised with the president, we think that by 2020 domestic refining capacity should not be less than one million barrel of oil per day in domestic refining.

“We actually put 1.2million barrels domestic refining capacity per day and that falls on our doorstep as indigenous operators.

”It will  be achieved. Some construction is already ongoing by indigenous companies and between some others who are coming in with smaller sized refineries.  We are confident that by 2020 we will deliver 1.2million domestic refining capacity.”

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