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Mele Kyari: Man with the Midas touch

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Mele Kyari


January 8th is ordinarily not a special date in the annals of the national oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). But it is fast etching itself on the sand of the Corporation’s history by virtue of the special connection and significance it holds for a man who has impacted the fortunes of the Corporation in an uncommon and positive way. That man is Mallam Mele Kyari, the 19th and current Group Managing Director of NNPC. He was born on January 8, 1965. He assumed duty as NNPC GMD on July 8, 2019. That makes January 8, 2021, one full year and a half since he mounted the saddle of leadership of the NNPC.

In just one and half years, Mallam Kyari has transformed NNPC from a Corporation, which used to be synonymous with opacity into a paragon of transparency. He did this by sustaining the publication of the Corporation’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR) to keep Nigerians, whom he always refers to as the shareholders of the company, abreast of its operations and financials.

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Not content with that and realizing the need to do more to rid NNPC of the toga of opacity, Mallam Kyari took the transparency drive a notch higher by publishing the Corporation’s 2018 Audited Financial Statement in July last year. It was the first in the 43-year history of the Corporation that its Audited Financial Statement was made available to the public. He followed that up with the publication of the 2019 Audited Financial Statement in October. One significant feature of the 2019 AFS was the 97.8% reduction in losses, which was largely attributable to the transparency drive.

Another significant step in Mallam Kyari’s transparency drive was the launch of the Open Data portal on the NNPC website where such information as staff strength and asset base are published. He topped that up with having the Corporation listed as an Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) Partner Company, joining a group of over 65 extractive companies, state-owned enterprises, commodity traders, financial institutions and industry partners who commit to observing the EITI principles by promoting transparency in all facets of their operations and transactions.

It was based on the above records he could declare before senior journalists and members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), just before the close of 2020, that: “There is little or no information you want about our operations that is not already in the public domain. I can say that we have kept our word as far as transparency and accountability are concerned. We will continue to do more until the word opacity is no longer associated with NNPC and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.”

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Mallam Kyari’s Midas touch has also been felt in the Corporation’s core business of oil and gas exploration and production. In line with his promise to raise national oil production to three million barrels per day by 2023, he has facilitated a number of projects to make that aspiration a reality. Key among these are the resolution of the dispute between Shell and Belema Oil that shut in over 30,000 barrels per day production in OML 25 and the execution of the Abo OML 125 Heads of Terms leading to the resolution of the issues around most of the deep offshore production sharing contracts and paving way for eventual renewal of OML 125 and further investment in exploring the lucrative field.

The GMD has also led NNPC to secure a number of alternative funding facilities for the NPDC and the Corporation’s Joint Ventures to facilitate further development of some assets. These include: the N875.75m NPDC OML 65 Alternative Funding and Technical services package with CMES-OMS Petroleum Development Company, the $3.15bn Alternative Financing Package with Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) and other partners for the development of NPDC’s OML 13.

First oil of about 7,900bpd was achieved from the project on 1st April, 2020, while production is expected to peak at 94,000bpd of oil and 542mmscfd of gas within four years.

Speaking on this development at an interactive session with editors a few weeks ago, Mallam Kyari said: “The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent OPEC-Plus agreement to cut production has impacted our plans and activities with regard to production growth, but I can tell you that much has been achieved in this regard. We are just waiting for normalcy to return to the industry to unleash some of these projects.”

Perhaps, one area where Mallam Kyari’s footprints loom large is the gas sector where he has led NNPC to invest aggressively in order to take advantage of the energy transition and get Nigeria ready for the future in the face of the dwindling fortunes of petroleum liquids.

Apart from successfully leading the charge to take the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the NLNG Train 7, he has revved up the process of completing long-standing gas infrastructure projects such as the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System Phase 2 and Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) gas pipeline. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, he helped to midwife the flag off of construction work on the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas Pipeline on June 29, 2019.

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Mallam Kyari ended 2020 on a high in the gas sector with the commissioning of the Oredo Integrated Gas Handling Facility in Ologbo, Edo State. The facility is already helping to bridge the gap in local production of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas) and providing more gas for power generation in the country.

All these projects are aimed at ensuring that Nigeria takes its rightful place in the emerging global energy order where natural gas is envisaged to play a pivotal role.

As he hits a new age, there appears to be a renewed zeal to do more going by his pronouncements at various fora where he had the opportunity to speak.

Going by the way Mallam Kyari has driven his Transparency, Accountability, and Performance Excellence (TAPE) agenda in the past one and half years, it would not be out of place for Nigerians to expect more tangible dividends from the NNPC and the oil and gas sector in 2021 under the Execution Excellence programme.

So, with high expectations, Nigerians rise up in celebration of Mallam Mele Kyari, the man who has become the new face of an NNPC that is poised to deliver on its promise of touching lives in more positive and meaningful ways.
Omar, a public affairs analyst wrote from Abuja.

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