Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday restated his call for the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill ((PIB) currently before the National Assembly in order to add value to the nation’s oil and gas industry.
Governor Amaechi made this call while declaring open the 3rd Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) Quadrennial Delegates Conference in Port Harcourt.
Represented by his deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru, Governor Amaechi, who is also Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), said the call became imperative due to emerging changes in the global petroleum industry occasioned by the now rampant discovery of crude oil in numerous African countries and the United States discovery of technology to extract shale oil.
“The tides are turning. Maybe, some fifteen, twenty years ago, Nigeria was apparently the only country producing oil. We could choose who to sell to and who not to sell to. We could choose to beat prices and so on. If you listened very well in the course of this morning’s address, you will hear enumeration of several West African countries that have discovered oil.
It does not end there, to worsen the matter; the United States has now discovered a new technology for the extraction of shale oil. China has adopted this technology. United States has told us that in the next few years, precisely by 2022, they will stop importing 75% of the total crude they import today,” he said.
Furthermore, the State Chief Executive pointed out that “in the next ten to fifteen years something is going to happen. The price of oil is very likely to drop and even when you get your oil, you will have to beg somebody to buy it,” urging NUPENG to champion the course of passing of the PIB.
In his speech, Chairman of the occasion and President, Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, represented by the Managing Director of Dangote Group, Mr. Joseph Makoju, said “the dream to refine and produce petroleum products for exports will not come to fruition, unless the Federal Government musters the political will to drive it to its logical conclusion,” stating that “ongoing reforms in the oil and gas industry will help provide an enabling environment for investments in the sector to thrive”.
Also speaking, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Andrew Yakubu, represented by the Group Executive Director, Corporate Services, NNPC, Alhaji Ahmadu Sambo, stated that the Federal Government aims at transforming the sector from an oil-based industry to an integrated oil and gas industry by maximizing oil and gas sector value to the economy, revitalizing downstream capacity to support domestic energy needs and repositioning gas for rapid domestic regional and export penetration, noting that these reforms are embedded in the current PIB.
Speaking, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, bemoaned the flawless rise in crude oil theft in the country, stressing that government “must take the lead by acting rather than lamenting” to the curb the menace and rescue the industry from its adverse consequences.
Earlier in his welcome address, chief host and NUPENG President, Comrade Igwe Achese, said the conference has been aptly themed: “Reforms in the Oil and Gas Industry: Catalyst for National Growth and Development, (What Prospect for the attainment of Decent Work Agenda?” as it intends to focus on the employment situations in the country and the working conditions of oil and gas workers.