For the past two months, there has been a public outcry over the terrible situation of the road from Eleme junction to the Refinery in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
For millions of Nigerians plying the route on daily basis, in the course of private and public businesses, the condition of the road has not only become deplorable but impassable.
A journey across this axis of the road which ordinarily should take about 20 minutes, now takes about four hours under very frustrating conditions.
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), particularly the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the union, has consistently appealed to the Federal Government to give urgent attention to the road. The body said, if permanent attention cannot be given to the road, at least, let temporary measures be provided to enable its members operate on the road in view of the peak of the rainy season.
Tanker drivers who ply the road daily while distributing petroleum products from Eleme Refinery to different parts of the country have lamented that the condition of the road has become a nightmare and a major frustration in their business operation.
Disappointed that their appeals have not been able to attract the Federal Government’s sympathy or attention to their plight, the body threatened to withdraw its members services to the nation.
The Rivers State chairman of PTD, Comrade Lucky Etuokwu, in his several media out busts had explained the pains, frustrations and heavy maintenance costs that petroleum tanker drivers have to bear due to the deplorable road condition.
According to him, there is need for government to fix the road before the peak of the rainy season because of the flood, occasioned by lack of drainage, covers the road, tanker drivers would find it difficult to meander through the bad spots and that this could lead to ship-off and eventual fall of trucks.
In an event of a fall, the petrol fire likely to follow could take lives of the drivers and other persons, as well as vehicles and structures close to it, adding that the petroleum products content of the truck which runs into millions would also go.
Etuokwu consistently called on the Federal Government as well as the Rivers State Government to fix the road to forestall the dire consequences, threatening that the body would have no option than to withdraw the services of its members, if government fails to do the needful.
Just as PTD is calling and wailing, the parent organization, NUPENG also aligned with it and added that if the appeals fail, it would also embark on a nationwide strike.
AS the voices of PTD, NUPENG and the public reached a crescendo, there came a ray of hope when the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, arrived the state (barely two weeks ago) on his official visit to Afam Power Plant in Oyigbo Local Government Area. Expectation was that the minister would take the advantage provided by his visit to make clear statement about Federal Government’s concern on the road. But such was not to be.
Again, by fortunate coincidence, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, an indigene of the state, flew into Port Harcourt on the occasion of his 52nd birthday celebration. Amaechi’s visit provided yet another hope for the suffering Nigerians that the minister would, at least, given an indication of the government’s feelings, particularly when the issue impinges on transportation. But, again, this was to no avail.
They had wondered, does it mean that, the public outcry over the dangerous situation of the road does not matter to the Federal Government? Or is the Federal Government too busy with more pressing issues that it cannot consider the serious threat being posed to lives of the citizens and the economy of the nation in view of the strategic position of their road? Where then lies the hope of the people?
Apparently worried by the seemingly not-so-important attitude of the government to the road, youths of some local government areas along this axis of the East West Road, rose up Friday, threatening total blockage of the road. According to the spokespersons of the youths, if in seven days, nothing was done by government, they would block the road and bring to a total halt all movements.
Should the ultimatum of the vexing youths elapse and the route be totally blocked in protest? Should the tanker drivers withdraw their services? Should NUPENG call out oil workers on a nation-wide strike before the needful is done? The consequences would be so dire to our national economy that is already at a strait.
The consequences of the two actions of youths and oil workers would indeed be too far-reaching. There would be crisis in the distribution of petroleum products, creating scarcity and price increase nationwide. NUPENG strike means calling on oil workers to down tools resulting in a replay of our old ugly tunes. A mental picture of rampaging youths blocking this busy road would be terrible and better left for the imagination.
The best option is for the Federal Government to get on top of the situation and save the nation, a trauma of these ugly events which might follow.
Apart from the refinery, this axis of the East-West Road connects the Federal Ocean Terminal (FoT), the Naval College, Indorama the biggest petrochemical plant in the West African sub-region, and of course, the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone (OGFZ) which hosts over 250 companies.
There is no gain saying that the road plays a major role in the economic life of the nation. But neglect of this road has become historic and many believe that the earlier it is given the attention it deserves, the better for the nation.
The road in question is a Trunk A road whose responsibility to maintain is that of the Federal Government. But the inability of the central government to give adequate attention to the road has directly pushed pressures on Rivers State Government.
Recall that at the inception of the present administration in the state led by Governor Nyesom Wike, it took remedial actions to fix the road which was in a terrible condition and also affecting negatively the operations of companies in the area.
Governor Wike then reached out to the managements of some of the companies operating in the area and initiated a temporary rehabilitation of parts of the road. This step was able to sustain public movement till the present period.
Before Wike’s administration, the preceding administration in the state led by Rotimi Amaechi invested so much resources and funds on Federal Government roads in the state with the hope that government at the centre would refund. But the state could not get its refund till that administration elapsed. The reluctance or unwillingness of Federal Government to refund states what they spent in fixing Trunk A roads in their various areas has become a big discouragement for them to continue.
To be sincere to the Federal Government, it had made efforts in the past to rebuild the East-West road, but that was not achieved. Billions of naira was reportedly uncovered to have been defrauded the system by the contractors who blew the billions and left us all in this mess. Yet, it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to make these contractors to cough out our billions.
Federal Government is expected to find a lasting solution to this East-West road that had for decades remained a nightmare to travelers. It could through its agencies and with the support of the National Assembly save us all from the mess by declaring a state of emergency on this road that is a life-wire of the nation’s economy.
But while expecting the Federal Government’s permanent solution, Governor Wike of Rivers State can also do good by finding a temporary measure to the road. In Wike’s score card, road construction remains one of his winning points and this feat cannot be sustained if people and residents of Rivers State continue to suffer avoidable trauma due to terrible conditions of Trunk A roads in the state.
In fixing the dangerous spots on the Eleme Junction-Refinery road axis of the East – West Road, let Governor Wike also extend this temporary measure to Eleme Junction to Oyigbo axis of Aba Road which is also a Trunk A road and in a state of abandonment.
By fixing these federal roads so far neglected by the central government, Governor Wike would not only be improving his profile as “Mr Project”, but would also be helping the nation in averting another national disaster that goes with a nation-wide oil workers’ strike.
Reactions Trail Protest At NLNG Facility In Bonny
Reactions are now trailing the protest by Finima community against the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited in Bonny, Rivers State and the counter protest, which led to destruction of properties and bodily injuries on the protesters.
The lawmaker representing Bonny/Degema Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Farah Dagogo, said the protest and the unfortunate violence would not have happened, if oil and gas multinationals operating in the Niger Delta, were doing things the right way.
Dagogo who described the violence as unfortunate, said it was a sad reflection of the sour relationship that now exist between companies and their host communities, as brothers were being pitched against brothers.
He urged the aggrieved people of Finima Community and all others in Bonny LGA to sheath their swords, adding that other means of getting a workable solution that would be beneficial to all, are being explored.
“The violence that was witnessed in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State between Finima community youths and other alleged youths of the LGA was unfortunate, and a sad reflection of the sour and acrimonious relationship that now exist between companies and their host communities.
“The peaceful protest against the NLNG, over the propriety or otherwise of a General Memorandum of Understanding, which was intercepted and later turned violent that has now left many injured and properties razed, would not have been necessary in the first place if things were done the right way.
“While apportioning blames now may not get the desired outcome , it is nevertheless instructive to note that the people of Finima Community and the various impacted communities in the Niger Delta and beyond, where the NLNG gas pipeline passed through, are within their rights to legitimately demand for what is theirs,” Farah said.
Meanwhile, the management of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, has confirmed that there was a protest and counter protest, which led to blockade of the major routes to its facility in Bonny Island on Thursday.
NLNG General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Eyono Fatayi-Williams, in a statement said as a good corporate citizen, the company applies the principle of fairness and inclusiveness in engaging with its esteemed stakeholders.
“The Company has always considered all stakeholders in the community trusted partners, and it continues to maintain this position.
“NLNG remains fully committed to sustainable development in the kingdom, hinged on active community participation to drive initiatives and projects that positively impact the lives of the community.”
This Tiny Country Could Become Europe’s Newest Oil Producer
It is rather rare to see enthusiasm for completely new exploration projects in Europe. The overwhelming majority of OECD countries are either in terminal decline or are looking into ways how to ban exploration altogether. The less-appraised parts of Eastern Europe might still have some potential yet in the absence of oil majors such endeavors risk remaining a lifelong pipe dream. Still, the appearance of a new European frontier can rekindle upstream hopes (even if for a short period of time). Europe’s latest addition to the list of nations willing to tap into their prospective hydrocarbon resources is located in the southeast of the Old Continent, in Montenegro. The small ex-Yugoslav republic with just slightly more than 600 000 inhabitants has witnessed its first offshore well spudded on March 25, 2021. The 4118-5-1 wildcat was drilled in 100 meters of water to a total depth of 6525 meters, some 25km from the Montenegrin shore.
The first offshore Montenegrin well was spudded by the ENI-NOVATEK tandem, with the Italian major taking on the reins of operatorship. Given the geographic proximity, ENI’s interest in offshore Montenegro is quite understandable and was to be expected. In case of any discovery, ENI has the convenient option of accommodating prospective production within its system, the Italian shore is only 500km from the wildcat’s location. The first well is targeting an oil reservoir at depths of 6.5km, implying that the Italian major’s 120kbpd Taranto Refinery might be a safe backstop for any potential crude produced. Along with Total, ENI has been one of the most active drillers in the Mediterranean, marking suchsupergiant discoveries as the Egyptian Zohr or the Cypriot Calypso. Across the Adriatic from Montenegro, ENI has been developing the Aquila field offshore Brindisi,producing medium density crude of some 36° API.
The case for NOVATEK’s participation in an offshore project is much more peculiar, considering that the Russian gas producer has no assets in the Adriatic.Moreover, NOVATEK is on the US’ Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List, meaning that equity investments and financing matters are substantially encumbered. Luckily for the Russian firm, offshore Montenegro does not fall under any of the three sanctioned areas, Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore, and shale. Domestically, NOVATEK is heavily focused on gas production on the Gydan peninsula and in the surrounding area, compelling it to seek new niches it can fill, new frontiers that could serve as bases for future growth. In a sense, NOVATEK needs to overgrow its LNG specialization and gain market-relevant competence in other segments, too.
NOVATEK’s first step into the foreign offshore segment took place in Lebanon where it landed two offshore blocks in a consortium with Total and ENI in 2018. In both cases NOVATEK did not lay claims to operatorship, focusing on building up key relationships with Europe’s leading drillers. It seems very likely that it is from the Lebanese joint experience that the Montenegrin drilling ambition branched out into a separate work track. Concurrently, although Montenegro is one of the hottest candidates for EU accession, Podgorica remains beyond the bounds of the European Union. For NOVATEK this is a great boon, as sanctions risk can be negotiated directly with the relevant national authorities, i.e. no involvement of Brussels is required.
Technically,the Montenegrin offshore area has already seen exploration drilling, though that was back in the SFRY (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) times, in 1980. Although Yugoslavia was a socialist country with all its peculiarities, it was the US major Chevron that was the operator of drilling operations. The Jadran Juzni (Southern Adria) prospect turned out to wield signs of oil and gas systems which, however, were deemed non-commercial,effectively closing Chevron’s offshore endeavors in Yugoslavia. It needs to be pointed out that the current wildcat is farther off the Montenegrin coast the Jadran Juzni well was only 3km from shore. To carry out the drilling, the ENI-NOVATEK tandem contracted the Topaz Driller, a Panama-flagged jack-up drilling rig. The contract was clinched in July 2020, for drilling operations starting in Q1 2021 and taking up to 180 days.
Up to now the work progress of ENI-NOVATEK seems fairly solid. In late 2018 their contractor has carried out a comprehensive 3D seismic survey on the 4118-5 Block, then the summer of 2019 witnessed a string of hydrophysical and geophysical surveys on the prospects. Having completed this, it was assumed that the spudding of the first well would take place in 2020, however, the coronavirus-triggered chaos upended all plans and effectively delayed the wildcat into 2021. Most probably the Italo-Russian joint venture will drill 2 wildcats. Even if the first well turns out to be completely dry or non-commercial, the second well (expected to be spudded in May-June 2021) is targeting gas plays at lower depths, i.e. the first well’s fiasco does not automatically foreshadow the failure of the second well.
According to media reports, it will take ENI 4-5 months to finalize the drilling of the wildcat and assess the results. Nevertheless, Montenegro’s offshore zone might more activity coming up in the upcoming months. The Greek Energean holds 2 license blocks (4219-26 and 4218-30) and is expected to take a decision on whether it intends to proceed with drilling exploratory wells in its acreage. The data to assess the blocks’ resource bounty is already there, Energean carried out 3D seismic surveying on both blocks in 2019 already. The spark of interest towards its off shore zone might compel the Montenegrin authorities to expedite a 2nd offshore bidding round which would presumably cover the 7 remaining unallotted blocks. There is very little probability that Podgorica will be trying to auction off onshore blocks,especially considering their history of dry wells.
Katona is a contributor.
By: Viktor Katona
‘NCDMB’ll Not Invest In Businesses With Competitive Private Players’
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), has said that it only partners with strategic policies and projects that are promoted by the Federal Government and would not invest in oil and gas businesses that have competitive private players.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, made the clarification recently when he hosted members of the Women in Energy Oil and Gas (WEOG) Nigeria, led by their President, Dr. Oladunni Owo at the Board’s liaison office in Abuja.
He clarified that the Board would not invest in competitive business areas because such investments would compromise its morale position as a regulatory agency.
“Our role is to act as a catalyst of strategic government policies and programmes and we exit once those businesses become successful,” he added.
He also stated that NCDMB is a regulatory agency and not an interventionist organisation and would not get involved in programmes outside its mandate.
According to him, in line with the Board’s vision to serve as a catalyst for the industrialisation of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors, the NCDMB has partnered with investors in modular refineries, manufacturing of LPG cylinders, LPG Depots, gas processing facilities, lube oil production plant, and a methanol plant using gas as feed stock.
Speaking further, Wabote listed some policies introduced by the Board to support women in the oil and gas industry to include the inauguration of the Diversity Sectorial Working Group in the Nigerian Content Consultative Forum (NCCF) and the creation of the Women in Oil and Gas Product in the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund).
He explained that the Bank of Industry (BoI) is responsible for managing the NCI Fund, assessing applications and disbursing loans to approved companies.
He said “the NCI Fund is one of the most successful loan schemes. About 98 percent of the borrowers are paying back because we go through a very rigorous process”.
Dwelling on the Project 100 Initiative of the Board, the Executive Secretary stated that it was designed to nurture 100 wholly owned oil and gas service providers in a competitive and sustainable way through targeted interventions, into larger scale players that create high impact.
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