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Adesanya: Technocrats needed to make JDZ achieve projected goals

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Adesanya

Former President of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Abiodun Adesanya, who doubles as the Chief Executive Officer of Degeconek, an indigenous oil services company, in this interview with KINGSLEY JEREMIAH, bares his mind on challenges facing the Nigeria- Nigeria-São Tomé and Príncipe Joint Development treaty

The Nigeria-São Tomé and Príncipe Joint Development Zone is still lying prostrate 17 years on. Any hope of revival?
Basically, the Nigeria-São Tomé and Príncipe Joint Development Zone started as a modern way of resolving what would have amounted to an international dispute between Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe. The resolution to take the area of the maritime overlaps and turn it into a joint development zone was the best. There’s a joint development authority that was established to develop the maritime areas claimed by both countries and that covers the whole economic activities within the zone. Oil and gas is part of that, there’s fishery, transportation, medical and so on. I am familiar with the oil and gas aspect. The managing authority started by dividing the oil and gas zone into oil blocks and then initiated a bid process, and a licensing round process, where a number of companies participated. They even went ahead to acquire some data around the area, which were interpreted in order to see the opportunities. Companies like Chevron had oil blocks in the area. There were activities in the zone but companies discovered that the oil and hydrocarbon that they encountered was not optimal as far as the size of companies were concerned. I don’t know other reason that might be behind it, but I believe that fiscal terms are good. It is a little better than what is obtainable in Nigeria.  I know that the geology will, as well restrict the area where oil and gas exploration is very attractive. Chevron and one or two other companies tried but couldn’t find anything per se. Seventeen years later, my expectation is that there would be need for discussion in a way that will attract investment and investors to this areas in order to see whether perhaps other companies, who went there first can not see.

Fresh and positive data gathered in the zone reveals that possibility of oil find is feasible. How can the country leverage on this new development?
Since we cannot influence from the São Tomé and Príncipe point, the first thing to do is to ensure that we have good professionals, who can adequately head the upstream section of the company. We should have our best at the zone and ensure that we have all the sections allocated to Nigeria controlled by competent Nigerians.

Secondly, we need to look critically at the programme that has been done, look at agreement that has been signed and see which areas that need to be improved. Whatever changes you want to make, has to be ratified by the National Assembly of both countries. We need to be realistic.  We need to treat one or two things in order to make it attractive so that investors will be able to do their work.

Basically, management is all about people and you know the calibre, quality, competence and talent that this management staff have is what is needed to make a success out of a venture such as this. Competency quality, content, skills, experience, and all those things have to be in the mix. With the right human resources, you can clearly move forward. The human resources aspect comes from both countries.

In terms of quality and experience, Nigeria has better quality, more knowledgeable and competent professionals, particularly in the oil and gas sector. We just have to up the game. The chairmanship position rotates between the two countries, so when it goes to the wrong person the activities go down. The two countries should find a way to make it work. Bringing in private bodies is another option, but I am not sure what the terms of the treaty say in this regard.

One of the issues reportedly raised by oil majors is the geology of the region. What is your take on this?
The Niger Delta does not extend from Nigeria to across the Atlantic Ocean. It stops somewhere. Part of the fringes of the Niger Delta happens to be in JDZ. Because the Niger Delta is known and it is prolific and the geology favours oil and gas exploration and production, the oil majors became attracted to the zone. In the other side of the zone, geology is very flattish. There are no geological structures that are attractive, especially in the Sao Tomean side.  The Niger Delta part was the area that companies showed interest in, and is true that the geology must be right to favour interest and to attract investors into this area.

Apart from these challenges, what must the company work on to become productive?
Basically, management is all about people.  The calibre, quality, competence and talent that these people have is what is needed to make a success out of a venture such as this. Competency quality, content, skills, experience, and all those things have to be in the mix. The human resources aspect is what is needed. The human resources come from both countries. In terms of quality and experience, the Nigerian side has better quality, more knowledgeable and competent professionals. We just have to up the game to make sure that we make the best available any time the chairmanship position rotates between the two countries. So when it goes to the wrong person, the activities go down. The two countries should find a way to make it work. We could also think of privatisation.


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