The Federal Executive Council has approved the petroleum industry bill to be forwarded to the National Assembly.
At the end of the council’s weekly meeting, the minister of petroleum resources Mrs Dieziani Allison-Madueke said that the new bill will ensure the independence of regulators in the oil and gas sector and see to the unbundling of the NNPC.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Wednesday faulted the sack of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Austen Oniwon along with his management team saying that this move will delay the growth of the oil and gas industry.
In a press statement signed by PENGASSAN’s President, Babatunde Ogun, the Union said that incessant changes in the management leadership of the NNPC will affect the on-going reforms policy in the industry.
According to the statement, one of the policy thrusts in the on-going NNPC transformation that is likely to suffer setback is the ongoing Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) and repair of the four refineries intended to put them back on stream to operate at their installed capacity.
Mr Ogun said that in the past few months, “the NNPC management had been working assiduously on how to bring back the refineries and there has been results to this effect, as the Kaduna Refineries and Port Harcourt Refineries have started working progressively towards their installed capacities, while there are plans to put back the Warri Refinery.”
The union leader expressed fear that the new management may abandon the ongoing TAM and repairs of the refineries, and thereby allow the government to sell those refineries as scraps.
The statement also said that “other vital areas where the outgoing team would have been of tremendous value is in the actualization of well articulated visions of a globally competitive national oil company in which their wealth of experience is to be tapped in kick-starting the impending Petroleum Industry law to successful take off.”
While congratulating the new management team led by the new Group Managing Director, Andrew Yakubu, the PENGASSAN president urged the team to follow the laid down reform policies and plans of the outgoing team; adding that the new team will be held accountable for any policy that truncate the growth of the oil and gas industry.
Mr Ogun said that the incessant change in the management leadership of the NNPC will affect the investment drive in the oil and gas sector, saying that “no investor will want to put money in a sector that the government can wake up in one day and just decide to change the drivers of the reforms and policies that can grow such sector.”
He said that one of the requests of the union in various engagements it had with the government is that “the appointment and disengagement of the Group Managing Director (GMD) should be standardized and tailored over tenureship like other government agencies and parastatals.
“Without prejudice, we are against the process of appointment and removal of NNPC Group Managing Director because it has always drawn the industry backward. It does not engender continuity of development policies, as each of the appointed GMDs comes with their governance style and discontinue previous administration’s growth policies.
“In our various engagements with the government, we demanded that the appointment of the GMD should be based on tenure just as we have it in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), among others, should be put in the PIB.”
The Union leader said that in the last 10 years, the national oil corporation had six GMDs from Jackson Gaius-Obaseki to Austen Oniwon, while the CBN and the NCC have had two each with the same period, adding that this brings serious challenges of uncertainty and instability in such major appointments, in a volatile and strategic industry like the oil and gas.
While decisions have been taken and new drivers of the Corporation appointed, he said the government must address our concerns which we believe will go a long way in helping the growth of the oil and gas industry.
The Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke has projected that the nation’s crude oil production will increase in the next few weeks to an average of about 2.68 million barrels per day.
Speaking on the state of Nigeria’s oil and gas production at the Nigeria oil and gas summit in Abuja, she says presently, Nigeria produces approximately 2.5 million barrels per day of combined crude oil and condensate, but will soon increase production by 180,000.
She insists that despite prevailing challenges in the sector, the on-going reforms will ensure more productivity when the petroleum industry bill is passed into law.