‘Government, IoCs, banks must support indigenous oil companies amidst divestment’
Amidst growing divestment from Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and dwindling global financial options for fossil fuel projects, the Federal Government, international oil companies and Nigeria’s financial institutions have been urged to provide a leeway that will enable indigenous oil operators to thrive.
Ingenious oil producer and service provider, who is the founder of Lee Engineering Group, Dr. Leemon Ikpea, stated in Abuja that boosting local content must remain a priority for the country.
Ikpea, who decried the prevailing operating environment in the oil sector, especially crude oil theft and vandalism noted that it remained unfortunate for Nigeria to be struggling with oil production and foreign exchange at a time that oil price is booming.
“The major issue is the security challenge. The security situation needs attention,” Ikpea said, while adding that most activities at projects sites halted due to the development.
Ikpea, however, said oil companies have a lot to do to safeguard the security architecture of the country, adding that the government cannot do it alone any more.
Ikpea, whose company is also into exploration under the recently marginal bid round, noted that it remained painful for the country to be losing and facing foreign exchange crisis at a time that oil producing countries are smiling to the bank.
“We should pay attention to security because it is in a peaceful environment that investments can thrive,” Ikpea noted.
According to him, indigenous operators need to be encouraged, adding that while companies are divesting, they can agree to help and safeguard the Nigerian contractors.
“The multinationals or the international oil companies should also patronise indigenous companies. If I tell you how much I have invested as an indigenous operator in providing some basic amenities, you will marvel. I have invested my time; I have invested my money in providing some of these things.
“Ordinarily, these are what the government should sponsor because in developed countries, the government comes out to empower operators through the provision of some basic necessities such as roads, security, and so on. But if you come to my company you will see what I am talking about,” he said.
Ikpea, a founding staff at Warri Refinery, whose Lee Engineering turns 31 this year, said that his foundation has trained 40 doctors in different fields and another l 189 graduates in various fields too.