The 2017 OTC and the lesson for Nigeria
The city of Houston, the fourth largest in the United States of America and the largest in the lone star state of Texas with oil accounting for 40% of its economy and languages spoken hitting 145, was founded in 1836 and named after General Sam Houston. Houston is a city with a proud past and a promising future driven by an ambitious present.
A city that has a lot to show the world and perhaps so much to learn from a country! Oil was discovered here in 1901 and diversification of the town’s economy away from oil started in 1990. It is a town that has made so much from oil in the boom days and has so much to show for its preparation in these doom days.
Little wonder that, as the energy capital of the world, It hosts the Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, which is a trade and business exhibition that gathers practitioners from all over the world. The yearly event is equally an opportunity for corporate and individual entities to showcase their products and brain content, both of which were beautifully displayed by participants at this year’s edition! The OTC usually holds at the NRG Stadium while corporately and individually sponsored conferences, technical presentations and workshops hold simultaneously at several hotels scattered all over the city.
Governor Seriake Dickson was there to campaign for foreign direct investment. Nigeria’s minister of State for Petroleum Resources was there to tell the world what he met in his ministry, what met with him and what he intends to meet with in the future. The Nigerian National petroleum Corporation was ably represented at the occasion, a workshop moderated by Dr Emmanuel Egbogah, OON, sponsored by the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, an association of some service providers in the Nigerian Oil and Gas sector unified by mutually beneficial returns. The panellists included Mr Bello Babura Rabiu (Upstream NNPC), Mr Jeffery Ewing (Managing Director, CHEVRON), Mr Bayo Ojulari (Managing Director SNEPCO), Mr Chike Onyejekwe (Managing Director AITEO) and Mr Austin Avuru (Managing Director SEPLAT).
The immediate past president, Nosa Omorodion and president Abiodun Adesanya of the National Association of Petroleum Explorationists, NAPE were in attendance. The Energy editor of the Guardian Newspapers; Roselyn Okere, the Biztellers crew and the team at Sweetcrude reporters together with Channels Television’s Olu Philips, Business Day and so many stakeholders in the industry were in attendance. Senator Tayo Alasoadura was there and so was the “Ajekun’ya” Senator Dino Melaye who, but for practised eyes, came in like a ghost and disappeared like a spirit!
The pavilion or the NRG Park is a place where business cards and handshakes including plaques are exchanged in quick succession while the conferences, seminars and workshops are places where careers are built, businesses contracted, and favourable policies attractively rooted and hitherto, difficult-to-access kingpins in the industry in Nigeria are easily accessed. The onus is therefore for each category to quickly identify where he/she belongs or better still, where their bread is buttered! At the workshop sponsored by PETAN, one of the representatives of the state oil company submitted that the cost of producing oil offshore is $17/barrel while the cost of producing oil onshore is $23/barrel! The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC bigwig further appealed to stakeholders to assist the state oil company to cut costs to enable them to deliver on the vision of the present government.
The Chevron Managing Director submitted that Nigeria has more gas fields than oil and at such, the country’s future depends more on gas. Senator Tayo Alasoadura submitted that PETAN and its technical session did not adequately recognise the Nigerian legislature because all the submissions made at the session would have to be supported by bills passed by the legislature. Dr Egbogah apologised on behalf of PETAN.
The senate committee chairman on upstream submitted that, in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians, whatever is being done for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians within and without Nigeria by Nigerians would henceforth, attract the presence of representatives of the Nigerian legislature even if uninvited! Honourable Joseph Akinlaja submitted that the House of Representatives members are working very hard to ensure bills are passed to make the industry more attractive than it presently is. The Minister of State; Kachikwu’s world press conference revealed that he succeeded in making a win-win negotiation on the over $7.5 billion owed the international oil companies, a negotiation that makes the oil companies get their money install mentally and the state to get some profit for quickly doing what it ought to have done much quicker.
The minister stated that $100M has been paid and the government will maintain that momentum to get the sector out of its present state of animated stupor! The minister submitted also, that, the government will try and apply the Brazilian model (OTC Brazil takes place 24-26 October, 2017of bringing the OTC to Nigeria, a move that is seen in the phenomenal drop in delegates sponsored to the conference by the state and a local content drive fully supported by DrillBytes. The minister further stated the federal government’s resolve to aggressively pursue the exploration of the frontier basins as well as the further encouragement of the marginal field operators to continue driving the industry in this era of marginal pricing. The minister continued answering questions until he got tired and his world press conference came to a gratuitous end.
The OTC has come to an end but the submissions, the good, the bad and the ugly, including the lessons learnt from the host city of Houston in its economic diversification away from oil, the common sense approach to governance, civilized conduct of the followership together with the humane administration of the town are all lesson curves for Nigeria. It is noteworthy that no member of the American legislature at whatever level or indeed, that of any other country, apart from Nigeria, visited the conference let alone make submissions! These are some of the OTC 2017 lessons for Nigeria.