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Why Nigeria must focus on harnessing oil, gas resources— Petroleum producers

Why Nigeria must focus on harnessing oil, gas resources— Petroleum producers

African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) has increased call for Nigeria and other African countries to focus on harnessing their huge oil and gas resources to address poverty on the continent.

Addressing stakeholders during 3rd edition of the African Local Content Roundtable in Abuja, Omar Farouk, the secretary general of APPO, lamented that Africa has continued to be dependent on foreign oil and gas technologies despite being in the oil producing business for nearly 100 years and making billions from oil and gas projects.

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“We have sadly been conditioned to believe that such dependency is normal. More alarming is the fact that the African continent has the highest proportion of its population living in energy poverty with over 600 million Africans living without access to electricity and millions of others living without any access to modern energy. 70 percent of the oil we produce is exported and 70 percent of the gas is also exported,” said Farouk.

He said that Africa must be allowed to use its affordable and available source of energy mainly oil and gas to alleviate poverty in the region.

“Developed countries used it to get to where they are today; we must be allowed to also use it to lift the living conditions of our people and get them out of poverty.”

While challenging stakeholders to take advantage of the roundtable in addressing the legitimate concerns, Farouk assured of APPO’s commitment to changing situation.

For Simbi Wabote, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), one of the greatest challenges bedevilling the region’s oil and gas industry was the inability to manufacture local components.

Wabote, who noted the importance of developing homegrown cost-effective affordable and scalable solutions to address local challenges, said that leaders must prioritise research, development and funding as critical tool to delivering local content goals on the continent.

According to him, “90 percent if not more of the equipment that we use are imported because we’ve not focused on how to manufacture some of the components in-country.

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“The time for change is now and it is our collective responsibility to usher in a new era of local content development and implementation in Africa’s oil and gas industry. The NCDMB stands as a key advocate in local content development not just in Nigeria but Africa as a whole.”

He, therefore, called for robust engagements on quality service and equipment manufacturing, cross-border partnerships, intensive out-of-the-box thinking and improvement of funding sources or leveraging additional funding sources to overcome the funding challenges of oil and gas producing countries.

In his remarks, Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state for petroleum resources (oil), said the theme of this year’s roundtable, ‘Fostering local content in Africa for Africans’, was appropriate for Africa to evolve from not just supplying raw materials, but developing capacity and capability to explore, produce and process its hydrocarbons resources into petroleum derivatives for its own use.

“This aligns with the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Tinubu that is anchored on positioning the Nigerian economy to look inward for goods, services and manpower needs of strategic sectors of the economy,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Mele Kyari, the group chief executive officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), stressed the need for Africa to prioritise and promote local content development in all aspects of operations.

According to him, “Africa must ensure a future where it is driving the technological advancement and innovation that is tailored to address our peculiar challenges. The continent must also ensure a just energy transition in line with climate change objectives.

“This means we must begin to empower local businesses, create jobs and add value to our economies beyond what we have done in the past decade. Therefore, this is a call to a commitment to utilising our own resources, expertise and workforce to maximise the benefits of our energy sector.”

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Represented by Muniru Mai, chief innovation officer, NNPCL, Kyari said the state-owned oil company understood the importance of local content and has made it the centre of its operations. “We are committed to achieving the highest level of local content in all of our projects from upstream exploration to downstream activities,” he said.