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Bold vision promises new dawn for Nigeria’s ailing petrochemical industry

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Estimated to hold 37 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, Nigeria is the second biggest oil-rich country in Africa, after Libya. The exploitation of these resources has been in the hands of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that was established in 1977 as a merger of the Nigerian National Oil Corporation and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel. NNPC by law manages the joint venture between the Nigerian Government and international oil companies such as Shell, Agip, ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron.

Despite its rich resources, at present Nigeria’s state-dominated oil industry is declining, afflicted by systemic corruption, starved for international investment, and hit hard by weak oil prices. Despite that malaise, oil remains the country’s chief source of income.

A choice of paths

What many considered a watershed moment for the industry occurred earlier this year in the country’s election with two conflicting strategies for the development of the industry put forward by the two candidates.

The incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari’s planned to retain a nationalized oil industry under the NNPC banner while the vision of his opponent, Atiku Abubakar, was to sell off aging refineries to private buyers to liberalise the economy. In the end Buhari won a tight contest.

The importance of the oil and gas sector for the state cannot be underestimated with more than half of its revenue along with 85 per cent of its export revenue coming from the sector. Despite the 40 billion barrels of oil under its control, Nigeria’s ageing infrastructure can only produce around 2.5 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Adding to this malady is the state of its mid-stream and downstream infrastructure that many believe is in even worse condition than its upstream assets.  The refineries dotted around the Niger Delta region are at present producing less than half of the 500,000 barrel per day capacity, with this figure dropping to almost ten per cent late last year.

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New beginnings for NNPC

The man charged with implementing the president’s policy is Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, who took on the role of group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) early this year. He quickly vowed to reverse the trend of petroleum imports into Nigeria by improving the existing refineries and encouraging private sector investment in the refineries.

“We must end the trend of fuel importation as an oil producing country,” he said at a press conference shortly after taking on the role. “We will deliver on the rehabilitation of the four refineries within the life of this administration and support the private sector to build refineries. We will support the Dangote refinery to come on stream on schedule and we will transform Nigeria into a net exporter of petroleum products by 2023”.

He added that the government’s target of raising crude oil production and reserves to three million barrels per day and 40 billion barrels respectively was possible and that he would galvanise the corporation to achieve it by 2023.

When it comes to rooting out the corruption that has plagued the industry in Nigeria he pointed out how much NNPC had changed over the past three years from the old image of a corruption-laden organisation, stressing that he would continue to entrench the culture of accountability in the affairs of the corporation.

“We are going to work to remove every element of discretion from our processes, because discretion is one of the greatest enablers of corruption”, he said. “NNPC will not be opaque, we’ll be transparent to all so that at the end of the day everyone will be in a position to assess us and say what we have done right or wrong”.

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Support from OPEC

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, has commended the NNPC for its ongoing reforms aimed at changing the fortunes of the corporation for the better.

“I am glad that you continue to march on with your projects despite the downturn in the Industry, he said. “We have seen the Industry globally suffer in terms of contraction in investment which affected capacity. You have not only been able to stay on course, but you also continue with these projects which are critical for the development of the corporation and the industry in Nigeria.”

“To lead such a sensitive and capital-intensive industry like oil and gas, you must have transparency and accountability as one of your core principles in order to drive change. I am glad I have known Mele Kyari for a very long time. He is a very capable and straightforward individual with a high level of integrity even as a very junior officer. So, he has a track record. I remain confident that together with his team, and with the support of government, he will accomplish the task”.

Building a Nigerian giant

Key to this strategy of reducing imports is the Dangote refinery that is under construction near Lagos. The 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) integrated refinery and petrochemical project will be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility upon completion in 2020. The facility will be able to process a variety of light and medium grades of crude to produce Euro-V quality clean fuels including gasoline and diesel as well as jet fuel and polypropylene.

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Nigeria in focus at Africa Oil Week

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria have been strained in recent months after several days of riots in South Africa in September that mainly targeted foreign-owned, including Nigerian, businesses.

But following a visit to South Africa by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari tensions have eased. A further sign of the improving relationship is the visit of Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to Africa Oil Week (Africa-OilWeek.com), the minister proclaiming himself being excited to be travelling to South Africa.

As the largest upstream event on the continent, Africa Oil Week has enjoyed attendance from the industry’s highest-level decision makers for over 25 years. This year is no different, with Nigeria’s brand new NPCC GMD making his international debut at the 2019 conference in Cape Town this November (4-8).

Mallam Melee Kyari will be setting out the future vision of the NNPC under his leadership and participating in a session titled ‘Atlantic Transform Margin (Liberia to Nigeria)’, where he will provide a deep insight into the current operating landscape in some of the most highly sought-after regions.

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National Issues

Emir of Kano, Sanusi betrays emotion, narrates how sick child died in mother’s arms over $5

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The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, on Thursday betrayed his emotions as he expressed  displeasure over  the alarming rate of inequalities in the country.

Sanusi, who shed tears noted that the inequalities in society have caused so much hardship with the poor paying the ultimate sacrifice.

The custodian of culture  made the submission as he gave an emotional address at a United Nations (UN) meeting to reach Sustainable Development Goals in Lagos.

The traditional ruler narrated an unfortunate situation where a mother could not save her sick child, despite being close to getting help.

Sanusi stressed at the event that on that fateful day, the woman had walked to the palace from a children’s hospital located just about 200 metres.

According to him, he heard a very loud scream and asked someone to check what happened while the person who came back with tears in his eyes.

The emir said the baby died in the mother’s arms while she was waiting for her turn to ask for money to buy the drug to save her child.

“And how much was this? It was less than five dollars,” an emotional Sanusi answered.

“This is what happens every day in this country. Children die because their parents cannot afford five dollars, that a mother will watch her child die because she does not have five dollars”, the Emir added.

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Nigeria: Restructuring is the only way forward, Clark declares

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Nigerian nationalist, Edwin Clark, has reiterated that restructuring is the only way forward if there will be development in Nigeria.

The elder statesman emphasized that restructuring the country will help address its challenges.

Reacting  to the Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari, Clark said, “Without restructuring, no meaningful progress will be achieved in this country”.

He  faulted the President’s address to the nation, maintaining that there was nothing in the speech that he had not said before.

He noted that while it was worth commending that Nigerians have continued to live together in the last 59 years, a lot of issues needed to be addressed.

Top among the issues highlighted by Clark are restructuring for a better nation and the security of the lives and properties of citizens.

Contrary to the government’s position on the war against Boko Haram insurgency, he insisted that the insurgents have not been decimated.

According to him, there are security problems in the northern and southern parts of the country, including the activities of armed herdsmen.

“Not a single herdsman has been captured. They are moving around everywhere – both in the North and South and with the problem of insecurity in the North-West, things are not okay,” he said.

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The elder statesman added, “We must put politics aside, as for the security of this country; the Federal Government cannot do it alone.

“That is why many of us are suggesting that we should have a security round-table talk. The problem in Nigeria today is not in the North alone, it’s a national problem which requires everybody to talk about it.”

He further called on the government to tackle poverty and unemployment, as well as reduce the number of out of school children in the country.

 

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74th UNGA: Nigeria’s day in the sun – Adesina

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The Presidency has described the 74th United Nations General Assembly, which begins fully on Monday, as Nigeria’s “day in the sun’’.

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari’s arrival in New York on Sunday for the weeklong global event.

Answering questions from newsmen, Adesina hinged his comment on the recent emergence of a Nigerian, Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bade, as the President of the UN General Assembly.

He said all eyes would be on Nigeria at the event considering the fact that a fellow citizen, Ms Amina Mohammed, is currently the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN.

“It is very significant; it is like Nigeria’s day in the sun because you don’t have it better than that.

“The Deputy Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, and then you are the President of that country.

“It is like focus would be on Nigeria, and it is a good one for our country’’, he said.

The presidential aide dismissed suggestion by some opposition elements that Buhari is attending the GA without a national agenda.

“Every country comes (to the General Assembly) with a national statement, and what our president is going to present is the national statement of Nigeria.

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“So, anybody that says that does not understand,’’ Adesina said.

The president, who landed earlier at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, was accompanied by some top government officials and senior aides.

The theme for the UNGA74 is, “Galvanising Multilateral Efforts for Poverty Eradication, Quality Education, Climate Action and Inclusion.”

Buhari is scheduled as the fifth speaker during the General Debates billed for Tuesday.

Leaders of countries’ delegations are expected to “present their National Statements and speak to the theme of the session’’, Adesina said in a statement earlier.

He said the president would speak on ‘’administration’s commitment to building on the achievements of its three-point agenda following the renewal of his electoral mandate by majority of Nigerians.

“He will also reaffirm Nigeria’s position on salient global issues,’’ he said.(NAN)

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