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Opening or closing opportunity: Nigeria International Petroleum Summit

…lessons from African peers   

Nigeria’s third annual International Petroleum Summit started on February 8 and is expected to attract about 5000 international energy industry executives, but can Africa’s biggest oil and gas producer seize the day.

The country can either take advantage and open up its petroleum market or inadvertently close them up by disregard for the sanctity of contracts. NJ Ayuk, executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber and chief executive officer of the Centurion Law Group has reasoned that this is the most opportune space for Nigeria to communicate its growth and development plans in Nigeria wants to reach the goal of making 2020 a gas year.

Last month, Timipre Sylva, minister of state for Petroleum Resources, declared 2020 as the Year of Gas for Nigeria.

“Following the recent $10 billion investment on Train-7 which will enable the Nigeria Liquefied Gas (NLNG) processing unit to remain the fifth-largest supplier of LNG in the world, Nigeria is right to build on this momentum,” Ayuk.

The 2020 edition of the NIPS conference anchors on the theme, “Widening the Integration Circle: Technology, Knowledge, Sustainability and Partnership.”  It hopes to present strategies and opportunities for growth in oil, gas and energy technologies as well as showcase major contract signings.

Other African countries have always taken advantage of such summits to promote their oil and gas sectors to a global audience of investors, suppliers and other key holders.

Last year, at Africa Oil Week event in Cape Town, South Africa, Mahamadou Makhtar Cisse, Senegal’s oil and energy minister used the platform to launch, for the first time in the history of petroleum exploration in his country, a licensing round of three blocks of sediment basin.

The licensing round would be promoted at international oil conferences in London, Houston, and Dakar during a first phase of the process, while energy companies would be able to evaluate the blocks’ potential between the end of January and the end of July 2020, the minister said.

Senegal has seen predominantly natural gas discoveries offshore in recent years, most of which are shared with neighbouring Mauritania.

Angola’s newly formed national oil, gas and biofuels agency, (ANGP), announced that the country has formed a consortium with five international oil companies, including Eni and Chevron, to develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) for its Soyo plant.

The consortium’s project, costing an initial $2 billion, is expected to start production by 2022.

Irene Muloni, Uganda’s minister of Energy and Mineral Development led a delegation of private and public sector players from Uganda’s oil and gas sector to AOW.

During the week, in a National Showcase, Uganda highlighted the on-going second licensing round for oil exploration, which covers five highly prospective blocks with relatively good seismic and other data, Muloni said.

Ghana told AOW delegates that plans, revising its laws on oil and gas licenses, sent to Parliament last week, is an effort to spur production and will revoke licenses from four companies that have not developed their assets.

“No country helps another, therefore, you must position yourself strategically to attract a fairer share of global resources through active participation in world trade and investments. This is the conversation we should be having now because as you can see none of these conferences has helped Nigeria’s economy in any fundamental way,” Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst and columnist told BD Sunday, BusinessDay’s Sunday title.

Nigeria has been described as having a reputation for blatant violation of the international rule of law and for acting with impunity in breach of its international legal commitments. These may pose changes to the country’s ability to attract the much needed foreign direct investments (FDI).

For instance, although a long-standing contracting party to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), Nigeria is widely seen in these institutions of international economic governance as an unreliable adherent to the treaty rules, said Olu Fasan, a visiting Fellow in the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics (LSE), and a member of the LSE’s International Trade Policy Unit.

 

STEPHEN ONYEKWELU

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