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Uneasy calm in oil, gas sector as probe looms


OILTHE fear of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari and the call for probe of the petroleum sector may have gripped the operators, as The Guardian investigation revealed that the righteous and the corrupt now reluctantly await the day of reckoning.

Indeed, industry sources alleged that some government agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) are now strategically tidying up activities particularly the financial aspect of the business.

Others believed that the impending probe will bring sanity and transparency in the sector, which has experienced several management and policy hiccups in the past.

The Chairman, Frontier Energy, Dada Thomas said: “I truly hope that President-Elect, Muhammadu Buhari will do the right thing and select a superb capable team that will actually deliver performance not only in the petroleum sector but throughout the whole sectors of Nigerian economy and society. We must separate politics from achievement and performance.

“We need to make it a transparent industry, we need to make up an industry, which is competent, and capable investors will come to play, not those briefcase companies that are being awarded all sorts of unscrupulous arrangement and contracts to the detriment of the nation,” he said.

The industry chief said many corrupt allegations in the industry should be brought to the fore and thoroughly investigated.

He said: “The oil industry accounts for 90 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings in Nigeria. I believe that the allegations made by the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that some $20 billion was missing or not accounted for. I believe that the Senate hearing in which government officials were admitting that there were some wrong doing that were being perpetrated.

“I believe that the entire world looks at Nigeria with horror and disdain about the total lack of transparency and corruption in Nigeria’s oil and gas. I believe that we cannot continue to allow corruption, lack of transparency, and lack of accountability to dominate the way we administer and manage our petroleum industry. I believe we need a total clean up to make the industry a truly beneficial to all Nigerian populace and Nigeria as a nation.”

On the atmosphere in the NNPC, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, NNPC, said: “I wish you could come over to the towers and see how we work here. You will know if there is any anxiety or not.”

An authoritative source in DPR who does not want to be named in the prints, said the company is cool and there was no anxiety and no element of fear because the DPR only perform a regulatory role and always short of funds.

The source said: “There is actually no anxiety, no fears. As you are well aware that our job here is regulations, and we try to do our job as prescribed by the status and guidelines by the government. Generally speaking, if probe will bring about more transparency, more professionalism and a higher level of delivery on our mandate, it is all well and good. For us, funding has always been a challenge to us, because we are always challenged financially.

“Everybody is welcoming the impending change and everybody is hoping that there will be a fair weather for the industry. Basically, the industry had in recent times faced several challenges particularly in terms of investment, development and funding shortfalls that has hindered growth of the sector,” the source noted.

According to the DPR official, the financial shortfall has affected projects in terms of exploration, production activities in the upstream, distribution of products in the downstream, expansion of gas facilities, infrastructure and networking to boost domestic gas utilisation.

“Taking into all these factors, everybody is looking up with great optimism of the impending change,” it stated.

The President, Consumer Right Advancement Group, Deolu Ogunbanjo said the oil and gas sector should be overhauled and particularly be more transparent in their accounting practices and standards, and also look into the issues of crude supply and ensure that it complies with industry standards.

Ogunbanjo, who was keen to see the deliveries of the new government to consumers in terms of product availability, said the Buhari’s administration should ensure that the existing refineries are revived and new ones are built.

Besides, he urged the government to protect the pipelines, noting that the nation is losing billions of dollars to vandalism monthly.

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