N’Delta Crisis: APC Group Commends Buhari’s Intervention

N'Delta Crisis: APC Group Commends Buhari's InterventionA political group, the Coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) Support Groups, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his initiative and intervention to end the lingering crisis in the Niger Delta.

The group, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Ambassador Sokari Afiesimama, noted that the Federal Government’s move to end the crisis in the Niger Delta was a clear indication that the government was poised to develop the region.

The group stated that the recent move by the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, on behalf of his boss, was attracting wider acceptance and applaud across the region.

”We observed that the process is getting quicker acceptance for collaboration and intervention to end the over prolonged crisis in the region.

”We, therefore, commend the Vice President to have led a team of rescue missioners such as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu; the Minister of the Niger Delta, Pastor Uguru O. Uguru; Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boro (retd.), on rescue parade to meet the grassroots people.

“The development has no other implication but to truly end youth restiveness and militancy.

”We hereby urge all indigenes of the region to explore the concept to discourage those factors that have caused gross damage to the environment and the oil and gas sector. We advise Niger Delta indigenes to see the opportunity as one to build good pleasantries to reciprocate President Buhari’s good gesture.

”We are urging all Niger Delta citizens to now rise above bigotry and regional sentiments, and report unscrupulous and treacherous activities to the government for the realisation of development, peace and security in the region.”

The coalition also said that their national chairmen would soon engage in a tour of the Niger Delta in order to directly meet with stakeholder at the states and local government areas for participation at the 2019 general elections.

”No better time than now for us to embark on the tour in order to harness the opportunity to build improvement. It is our prayer that all stakeholders would quickly key into the activities and realise the promise of engaging 1,000 youths from the oil producing states.

”Thank God for Buhari and Osinbajo; quintessential leaders who are taking keen interest to factor out major pressing issues for remedy and to proffer lasting remedy to achieve the reasons for voting APC into power.

”The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, mandated the National Deputy Chairman, North, Senator Lawal Shaibu, to re-inaugurate the steering national committee of the Coalition of APC Support Groups, having shown good conduct, discipline and vision for good governance.”

Oil And Gas: FG Pledges Support For Stakeholders

OGTAN, Oil And Gas: FG Pledges Support For Policy Makers, Ibe KachikwuThe Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said the Ministry will do everything within its power to close the gap between policy makers in the oil and gas industry and the industry’s stakeholders.

Dr. Kachikwu made the pledge during a meeting with members of the National Executive Council of the Oil and Gas Trainers Association (OGTAN) at his office in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The Minister was represented at the meeting by the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics at the Ministry, Mr Adekunle Adeyemi.

He said the Ministry of Petroleum Resources would support OGTAN to carry out their capacity building mandate for technical manpower in the oil and gas industry.

Earlier in his remarks, the President of OGTAN, Dr. Mayowa Afe, solicited support for the association from the Ministry.

Dr. Afe said OGTAN is an independent group established by one of the Ministry’s agencies, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in 2010 for training service providers in the sector.

He noted that the organisation’s main mandate was to build local human capital capacity in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, as well as act as a business group that interfaces with operators, international organisations and the Nigerian Government.

FG Activates $20bn Gas Industrial Park In Delta

Yemi Osinbajo, Gas Industrial Park, DeltaEfforts by the Federal Government to fast track the development of the Niger Delta appear to be in full swing, as it plans to site a $20 billion gas industrial park in the region through a public-private partnership.

This was made known on Monday by Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, during a meeting with a group of international investors and developers on the project at the Presidential Villa.

The consortium is made up of fortune 500 companies which include the GSE&C of South Korea, the China Development Bank, Power China and several other global operators from Asia and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle-East.

A statement from the Vice President’s office explained that the project, tagged the Gas Revolution Industrial Park (GRIP), would be located in Ogidigben, Delta State, and is envisaged to be a regional hub for all gas-based industries.

According to the Acting President, the project would cover 2700 hectares with fertiliser, methanol, petrochemicals, and aluminium plants located in the park which has already been designated as a Tax Free Zone by the Federal Government.

He said the government “is committed to the development of the Niger Delta, and the importance of this project is underlined by the presidential attention it is attracting. The presidency is very interested”.

We Are Unwavering

Professor Osinbajo added that the Federal Government takes the project very seriously, just as it is ready to make several other commitments to change the fortune of the oil-producing states.

“We already have a steering committee in place, chaired by the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and that shows the level of our commitment. We are unwavering.

“We take the project very seriously and glad to see you are committed and ready to make several other commitments. This is a process that we intend to see happen,” he said.

On his part, Dr. Kachikwu expressed confidence that the GRIP would bring the much needed succour to the people of the Niger Delta and the oil-producing states.

Speaking earlier, the leader of the group of investors and developers, Sheikh Mohamed Bayorh, stated the commitment of the consortium, stressing the importance of the project to solving the Niger Delta crisis.

The development comes against the backdrop of the recent visit by the Acting President to the oil-producing communities, to demonstrate the resolve of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to pursue a new vision for the Niger Delta.

Nigeria Targets 60% Drop In Petroleum Products Import By 2018

Kachikwu, Niger DeltaThe Nigerian government says it is targeting at least 60% drop in importation of petroleum products by 2018 and export increase by 2019.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, told a gathering in Lagos that current reforms initiated by the government would ensure the reduction in importation and subsequently position the country for net export by 2019.

The Minister, who announced the planned reduction in importation in Lagos on Monday at the 10th Oil Trading and Logistics Africa Downstream Expo, was represented by his Senior Technical Adviser on Upstream and Gas, Mr Gbite Adeniji.

He, however, says there is need to fully liberalise and deregulate the midstream and downstream sub-sectors in a way that the open market prices of petroleum products would be cost-reflective and market-driven.

Dr Kachikwu also called for a strong independent regulator to monitor activities in the sub-sector, whose role is not price-setting, but to develop and enforce open, fair and transparent rules in the downstream oil and gas sector.

Foreign Exchange Availability

He stressed the need to build refineries and run them as profit centres that would purchase crude at international prices and deliver products at export parity prices.

“This is the only viable basis for financing new infrastructure. This ensures that pricing will be conducted on a market-derived basis. We need to establish an oil and gas infrastructure protection squad, with the responsibility for dealing with crude and products theft, vandalism and general criminality, which is currently on an upsurge in the entire industry,” he told the gathering.

On his part, the Group General Manager of the Crude Oil Marketing Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, told the gathering that the government had resolved the challenge of foreign exchange availability facing marketers.

Stranded Forex

He, however, noted that some of the marketers were rejecting the dollar supply provided by the government to facilitate the importation of the products.

Explaining the foreign exchange issues which the cost of petroleum products had been linked to, he said: “There is no way today you can take petrol to the retail outlets and sell it at 145 Naira. So, if that is true, and I believe that is true because we all go to the market and we know what is going on, why can’t we sell above 145 Naira?

“And I know today that it is impossible to announce tomorrow that petrol price is 150 Naira. This government cannot sustain it. It is unfair even to expect it to do that today. That is the truth. But all of us, including myself, are not ready to take that number. That is why Vitol, Northwest, Petrocam, and others, are not importing; it is not forex”.

Kyari further stated that the government had created a niche market for forex, saying, “we have ring-fenced all forex from the upstream such that the forex will be available at a fixed price – a price that the CBN has agreed. I am part of the people who are involved in making sure that the forex is available.

He further stated that the 145 Naira per litre price band had scared importers away from importing petroleum products.

“I am part of the committee allocating those forex, and I know and I can see some of you here; we gave you forex, but you returned it. And the reason that was given was that the forex was not enough to import. But that is not the truth. The truth is that if you go to the market today and buy products and land here, you are required to sell it at N145 maximum. That is the main reason why people are not importing.

“As I speak to you today, we have stranded forex that nobody is ready to pick up. So, we have closed the chapter on forex,” he explained.

Kyari, however, said the NNPC was very comfortable and could sell petrol at N145 per litre.

Nigeria To Get $4bn Loan Facility In Oil Sector Investment – Kachikwu

KachikwuThe Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, says Nigeria expects as much as four billion dollars in loan facilities for infrastructure development in the oil and gas sector.

Dr. Kachikwu gave the hint on Wednesday ahead of a 40-member Chinese investment team’s visit to Nigeria at the end of October.

He told journalists after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday that the loan facility was independent of the $75.6 billion oil sector investment Memorandum of Understanding signed at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s China Road Show in July.

The Minister said $40 billion was the original target, being the total cost of Nigeria’s oil infrastructural gap.

He further told reporters that despite an expected gestation period of one year for the hatching of business incentives and terms of investment arising from different agreements the nation had entered into, the country would take advantage of some readily available facility lines.

Nigeria’s oil sector had witnessed lesser activities, since the price of crude oil dropped, dipping the nation’s revenue.

Nigeria largely depends on crude oil sales for its revenue, but the government has reiterated the need for a shift from crude oil to other sectors to raise money and reflate the economy in recession.

Dr. Kachikwu had at the roadshow described Nigeria as a reservoir of natural resources waiting to be tapped.

The Minister urged the Chinese investors to join their counterparts who have invested in Nigeria and were doing well in various sectors of the economy.

Liberal Policies

Dr Kachikwu stated that Nigeria was a preferred investor’s destination because of its liberal policies and quick returns on investments.

The Minister also signed an agreement worth $30 million.

A top official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Anibor Kragha, who presented the areas of investments to the businessmen, described Nigeria’s oil company as the biggest investment in the African continent looking for partners that will be part of Nigeria’s oil and gas revolution.

Kragba assured the businessmen of a friendly environment and quick returns on investments in Nigeria’s oil industry.

Also at the roadshow, an indigenous investor in the industry, Dr Bryant Orjiakor, lent his voice to the attraction in the nation’s oil and gas industry.

According to Orjiakor, Nigeria’s oil and gas industry was a major platform on which the country aim to expand its economy.

He identified Nigeria’s population as an advantage for quick yields on investments.

Nigeria is targeting about $15 billion foreign investments from China and the Gulf States to replace and expand its ageing infrastructure in the oil industry.

The NNPC also targets $50 million investment from its roadshows and its major target of investors are in China, India and the Gulf Countries.

Pipeline Vandalism Will Affect Funding Of 2016 Budget – Kachikwu

Kachikwu, Niger DeltaThe Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, on Thursday said there might be no money to fund the 2016 budget going by the spate of pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region.

Dr. Kachikwu, who said this at the 2016 Annual Conference of National Association of Energy Correspondents in Lagos, warned that militancy in the Niger Delta has destabilised the country’s oil industry, adding that Nigeria needs to increase its production by 1.1 million barrels per day to meet its target.

Dr Kachikwu revealed that has recorded 1,600 cases of pipeline vandalism since January, and over 3, 000 pipeline vandalism cases from 2010 to 2015.

Dr. Kachikwu urged the militants to stop and set aside every aggression and come to the altar of engagements, insisting that the solution to the Niger Delta problem is not militancy but extensive dialogue.

He further noted that domestic gas supply to power has declined by 60%, maintaining that refineries are still averaging 50% – 60% capacity.

He called on the need to ramp up production, affirming that “we must do whatever is required as a people to proffer solutions to our collective challenges as a nation”.

He stated that his dream is to ensure that by 2018 “we exit importation of petroleum products and by 2019, begin exportation. He also stated that the China Road-trip was focused on attracting investments to the sector.

Dr Kachikwu maintained that a review of the regulations affecting the oil and gas sector in Nigeria in the past 30 years is in progress, adding that polices such as National Gas Policy, National Oil Policy, Fiscal Policy and National Downstream Policy, will also be developed.

He further maintained that the liberalization of the downstream sector has led to the reduction of truck-out from 1,500 about 10 months ago to 850, presently, daily consumption of ±45 million litres (10 months ago) to ±38 million litres and drastic reduction of petroleum products massive diversion to West African countries.

He, however, assured Nigerians that government is stepping up efforts to make robust policies that would finalise and gazette a comprehensive gas policy, unlock gas potential and ensure effective development of Nigeria’s gas market.

Niger Delta Violence: Osinbajo Meets With Six State Governors

Osinbajo, Niger DeltaThe Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is meeting with some state governors and security chiefs at the Presidential Villa. 

Discussions are focused on ending cases of attacks by militants on oil installations in the Niger Delta region.

Some of the governors in attendance include; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State.

Others are the governors of Baylesa, Mr Seriake Dickson, and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

Apart from the governors, the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff and the Inspector General of Police are also in attendance.

The Federal Government is set to de-escalate military operations in the Niger Delta region to pave way for dialogue with the militant groups.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, had earlier said that a committee, which will be coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser has been set up for the dialogue.

It will include the Petroleum Minister himself, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru, select thoughts leaders and influential individuals from the Niger Delta region.

FG To Begin Intensive and Sensitive dialogue With Niger Delta Avengers

fuel scarcity
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu

The Nigerian Government is set to de-escalate military operations in the Niger Delta region to pave way for dialogue with the militant groups like the Niger Delta Avengers who have recently recommenced the destruction of pipelines and oil productions facilities in the region.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, said a committee, which will be coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser has been set up for the dialogue and it will include the petroleum minister himself, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru, select thoughts leaders and influential individuals from the Niger Delta region.

Dr Kachikwu explained that the dialogue is aimed at halting the deadly attacks, which have made Nigeria’s oil production drop to 1.6 million barrels per day saying government will take its time to engage the militants, in what he says will be an intensive and sensitive dialogue which is expected to unfold in the next one week.

President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed a team led by the National Security Adviser “to begin the process of a very intensive dialogue with those caught in the middle of this,” Oil Minister, Emmanuel Kachikwu, said late on Monday, while Buhari was in Britain seeking medical treatment.

“We are making contacts with everybody who is involved, the ones that we can identify, through them, the ones that we can’t identify so that there is a lot more inclusiveness in this dialogue,” he said to Reuters news agency.

“Our prayer is that this works so that we resort to dialogue rather than use of force,” he said.

Presidency Gives Reasons For 145 Naira Petrol Price Band

Yemi Osinbajo on new petrol priceThe Presidency in Nigeria has explained the circumstances surrounding the review of petrol price band from 86.50 Naira to 145 Naira per litre.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Wednesday announced the new price and also an opening of importation to independent marketers and any Nigerian entity.

In a statement on Friday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave further explanation about why the government made the decision which critics said carried with it ‘hardship’.

He said: “I have read the various observations about the fuel pricing regime and the attendant issues generated. All certainly have strong points.

“The most important issue of course is how to shield the poor from the worst effects of the policy. I will hopefully address that in another note”.

Professor Osinbajo explained that the real issue was not a removal of subsidy, pointing out that with $40 a barrel there was not much of a subsidy to remove.

He stressed that local consumption of fuel was almost entirely imported and that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) exchanged crude from its joint venture share to provide about 50% of local fuel consumption.

“A Foreign Exchange Problem”

“The remaining 50% is imported by major and independent marketers.

“These marketers up until three months ago sourced their foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria at the official rate. However, since late last year, independent marketers have brought in little or no fuel because they have been unable to get foreign exchange from the CBN.

“The CBN simply did not have enough. (In April, oil earnings dipped to $550 million. The amount required for fuel importation alone is about $225million!),” the Vice President explained.

He stated that the NNPC had tried to cover the 50% shortfall by dedicating more export crude for domestic consumption.

The Vice President further said that “besides the short term depletion of the Federation Account, which is where the FG and States are paid from, and further cash-call debts pilling up, NNPC also lacked the capacity to distribute 100% of local consumption around the country. Previously, they were responsible for only about 50%. (Partly the reason for the lingering scarcity).

“We realised that we were left with only one option. This was to allow independent marketers and any Nigerian entity to source their own foreign exchange and import fuel. We expect that foreign exchange will be sourced at an average of about 285 Naira to the dollar, (current interbank rate). They would then be restricted to selling at a price between 135 Naira and 145 Naira per litre”.

Like the Minister, Professor Osinbajo also expects that with competition, more private refineries, and NNPC refineries working at full capacity, prices will drop considerably.

“Our target is that by Q4 2018 we should be producing 70% of our fuel needs locally. At the moment even if all the refineries are working optimally they will produce just about 40% of our domestic fuel needs.

“This is therefore not a subsidy removal issue but a foreign exchange problem, in the face of dwindling earnings,” he reiterated.

Organized Private Sector Supports Deregulation

private sector, deregulationThe Director-General of the Lagos Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf, has thrown his weight behind the liberalization of the petroleum downstream sector.

In a statement released on Thursday, Mr Yusuf, explained that the deregulation of the sector will reduce importation of petroleum products and ease the pressure on the foreign exchange market as well as foreign reserves.

In the meantime, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture have also commended the federal government for finally taking the bold step to remove subsidy on petrol.

The President of the chamber, Bassey Edem, expressed optimism that this will put an end to the fuel scarcity being experienced in the country, while reducing the pressure on foreign reserve as a result of huge demand for petrol import.

 

Fuel Price Increase Is Unacceptable, Labour Insists

NLCThe Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has maintained its earlier stance that the recent hike in the pump price of petrol as announced by the federal government is unacceptable.

The General Secretary of the NLC, Mr Peter, Ozo-Ezon was the guest of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday.

He referred to the announcement of a new petrol pump price band of 135 to 145 Naira as the “worst approach that any government has taken” in the history of the country.

“Other governments have attempted to remove subsidy and to say they are deregulating completely but in doing that, no government has said that importers should now invade the black market for foreign exchange and therefore the domestic pump price would now be determined on the basis of black market foreign exchange.

“That is a recipe for economic instability not just in the oil sector but in the whole economy,” he stated.

Mr Ezon feared that in the next few months, the policy would lead to the total collapse of the value of the Naira in the black market, which he says would lead to further increases.

“We think this is undesirable for the economy and we think that the government has not thought this policy through and we are opposed to it.”

Government Needs To Be Truthful

The NLC also said that it did not at any time discuss the increase in fuel price with the Minister of State for Petroleum, prior to the announcement of the new price band on Wednesday.

The Minister had said on the Thursday edition of the programme that all stakeholders had been consulted before the decision was made.

“What happened was that on Tuesday at about 4PM, we received a letter from the office of the Vice President, inviting the President of the NLC to what was termed a consultative meeting.

“No subject matter was indicated and the meeting was scheduled for 12noon on Wednesday.

“Because the President was out on official duty, I went to the congress. The TUC President was also there and the President of NUPENG was also there. Those were the three representatives from Labour.

“There were senators, there were members of the House, there were some governors and on the spot was when we knew what the matter was.

“It was to receive a presentation from the honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and he made a presentation in which he was canvassing for total deregulation, abolition of subsidy and all that.

“At the end of it, there were those who made comments, mainly those from the National Assembly; some cautioning, some advising and some asking other questions.

“The Vice President then specifically called on us one by one by name – the three of us, and what we told the Vice President was that we had just received that presentation and since we represented democratic institutions, we would take the presentation and discuss it at our organs and we will get back to government on our position.

“That was all that happened at the meeting. No decision was taken.

“So when the Minister was quoted to have said that we were part of a meeting that took that decision, then he was clearly not truthful about that and I think government needs to be truthful in putting facts before citizens,” Mr Ozo-Ezon said.

Welcome Development

Meanwhile, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Igwe Achese, says government’s decision is a “welcome development” for them as it is a move they have been yearning for.

Joining the conversation via the telephone, Mr Achese said, “For us as a union, NUPENG and PENGASSAN, it is a welcome development, it is an issue we have been yearning for.

“The sector should be deregulated and opened up for marketers to play the necessary role they need to play and government should be able to focus their attention on making sure that our refineries are rehabilitated and not paying subsidies to few individuals in the name of importation of petroleum products.”

On the insistence of the NLC on resisting the new price regime, Mr Achese said that Labour should be focusing its attention on the issue of minimum wage which is “very key and fundamental”.