The Federal Government yesterday moved to checkmate those who may want to scuttle fuel supply in the country ahead of the planned January 2010 take-off of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) ordered for the importation of 90 cargoes of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), 28 cargoes of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) and 10 cargoes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO).
It again declared that there was no going back on the planned deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry and warned that erring marketers who indulge in acts that are capable of jeopardising the exercise would risk severe sanctions.
Reading the riot acts in a meeting with major and independent oil marketers and other stakeholders, Acting Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Mr. Billy Agha, said the DPR, an agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating the petroleum industry, had braced up with the expected challenges and had taken steps to deploy resources at its disposal to ensure that products distributed to dispensing points were monitored and made available to the public as intended.
He said the massive importation was designed to meet the country’s ever increasing fuel needs during the forthcoming Muslim and Christian festivities that will precede the January 2010 new take-off date of deregulation.
Agha reminded the marketers that they had a critical role to play especially in products distribution and supply and advised them to shy away from actions that are inimical to the successful deregulation of the petroleum sector.
“NNPC has indicated that their coverage of the market is premised on the fact that there may not be supplies coming from third parties, while assuring sufficient and robust supply of the indicated products within this critical period,” he said.
Agha, who expressed concern about the sharp drop in the number of applications for permits to import Premium Motor Spirit and kerosene by major and independent marketers of product, appealed to the marketers to take it as “sacrifice” and continue products importation to ensure availability of adequate supplies in the country.
He said: “It is our fear that in the event of not being able to flood the markets, as anticipated during the critical period, the supply chain will be affected which may lead to scarcity, hoarding of products, diversion and other associated ills of scarcity, the most notable of which is the reduced trucks load-out from the storage depots/facilities” .
While noting that “deregulation would phase out monopoly and allow market forces to dictate the price”, the DPR boss cautioned against hoarding and diversion of products, noting that anybody caught in such act would be punished.
“The key players should get ready for deregulation and be ready to play a critical role so that it could be a success and all of us will move on to the promise land.
There is no going back on the deregulation. The time I do not know, but what I know is that we are deregulating the sector. No going back.
“We therefore appeal to all marketers to as a mater of fact have the interest of the public at heart, and to shy away from actions that are inimical to the successful deregulation of petroleum products in the country. The DPR would not hesitate to impose the necessary sanctions on the erring marketers found violating the laws,” he warned.
Responding, the marketers complained that notwithstanding that government is yet to pay the huge amount owed them as outstanding subsidy, they had gone ahead to secure permit to import products but were not granted approval by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
They accused the Federal government of failing to follow due process in the deregulation exercise and of not providing the conducive operating environment that will make it succeed.
The government had recently announced that the planned deregulation initially scheduled to take off on November 1, 2009 would now kick-off by January 2010. However, marketers are of the view that a situation where the NNPC is allowed to monopolise fuel importation will create monopoly and endanger competition.
Meanwhile, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) last week resumed operations at its Soku gas plant located in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, after 11 months of closure, a company spokesman confirmed yesterday.
The Federal Government lost over $180 million liquefied natural gas revenue monthly following the closure of the gas plant since November 27, 2008 as a result of the activities of militants and vandals.
The gas plant accounts for 40 per cent of the gas need of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Plant in Bonny Island of Rivers State. NLNG supplies 10 per cent of the world’s liquefied natural gas. Following the closure of the plant, NLNG declared force majeure on 40 per cent of its LNG supplies to European customers.
The company said over 101 vandalised points were detected on the pipelines shortly before closure. When remediation was being carried out, Shell discovered that about 200 places on the 58 kilometres pipeline had been punctured for stealing of the product.
The plant was capable of producing 577 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day but the theft of condensate, which is a by-product of crude oil, has grossly affected production.
Nembe Oil Spill From Aiteo Facility Worst I’ve Seen – Diri
The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Wednesday returned from visiting the oil spill site in Nembe Local Government Area of the state, describing it as the worst he had seen in his lifetime.
The OML 29 Well 1 platform, which is operated by Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited, has been spilling crude unabated into the Santa Barbara River for about one month.
An estimated two million barrels of crude has reportedly been spilled into the river, polluting the flora and fauna of the area, the governor’s spokesperson Dan Alabrah, said.
The Minister of State of Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, had said the scene of the spill was like a war zone.
Overwhelmed by the spill, Aiteo hired Halliburton’s Boots and Coots to “kill the well” by injecting cement into it. It bought the well from the Royal Dutch Shell in 2015.
As at Wednesday, the Bayelsa government said the spill that began November 5 was still ongoing.
Governor Diri said the continuous spillage has further endangered the lives of people of Nembe, Bayelsa and indeed the Niger Delta.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Alabrah, the governor, who expressed shock over the quantity of crude that has been spilled into the environment, called on the Federal Government and operators of the oil field to immediately take action to stop it.
According to him, the prolonged oil spill into the water and air had an immediate and long term effect on the health of the inhabitants.
While assuring the people that appropriate measures would be taken to seek redress, he noted that the quest by oil firms to make money would not be at the expense of the lives of the people.
Describing fishing as the source of livelihood of the people of the area, Mr Diri noted that just as there are grazing routes, Bayelsa State has fishing routes and must be protected.
His words: “Today happens to be a very dark day for me. What we have seen, I believe, is worse than what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. In all my life, I have not seen such magnitude of oil spillage.
“Our people are endangered. Our people’s source of livelihood is endangered. I empathise and sympathise with the people of Nembe on behalf of the government and people of Bayelsa State.
The Bayelsa governor also decried the exclusion of indigenes of host communities in the running of the oil industry, saying that if indigenes were part of the operations of the oil field, they would have looked for ways to address the problem.
To ameliorate the suffering of the people, the governor directed the State Emergency Management Agency and Ministry of Health to immediately provide relief materials and healthcare services to the people.
Earlier, the chairman of Nembe Local Government Area, Hon. West Alalibo, and member representing Nembe Constituency 2 in the State House of Assembly, Edward Brigidi, appreciated the governor for embarking on an on-the-spot assessment visit to the site.
‘Emerging Challenges May Frustrate Dev Of Gas Resources’
Although the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is expected to unlock gas potential in Nigeria, especially the current 206 trillion standard cubic feet proven reserves, stakeholders Wednesday said the goals might remain elusive.
Investment to unlock the series of the opportunities outlined by the country according to the stakeholders, may remain a daunting task amidst heavy levies on the sector, domestic gas pricing challenges as well as lack of necessary technology and skills set.
Coming as the price of natural gas Wednesday, tumbled further to $4.4 per MMBtu after rising close to $7, the stakeholders at the 10th Practical Nigerian Content Forum stated that without the right environment, Nigeria may miss out of the window of opportunities available through the energy transition phase.
The Senate Chairman, Local Content, Teslim Folarin at the event also insisted that the cross-sectorial local bill in the National Assembly would make existing executive orders on patronage of Nigeria goods and services a law across sectors of the economy, stressing that it won’t however scrap the NOGIC Act.
With the current high price of cooking gas, the inadequacies of gas to power plants, the experts noted that data challenges, legal framework, lack of collaboration, weak research and development, lack of technology, imposition of taxes on the gas value chain lay heavy siege to the country’s aspirations in the gas revolution.
Group Executive Director, Gas and Power at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Abdulkadir Ahmed, insisted that declining funding for fossil fuels would create challenges for existing gas resources in the country, stressing that the sector must devise a means to fund projects and also produce more with cost.
Ahmed was also concerned about the infrastructure that transports and ensures utilisation of gas, adding that a transparent and market-driven pricing remained sacrosanct.
“We can not make progress without a market-driven and transparent gas price. No one will put in money if they have no feasibility of how they will recover their cost. There won’t be any gas to process if we do not invest in upstream activities,” he said.
Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Gas, Ed Ubong stated that there was a need to build local capacity for gas and ensure that the resources are used to spur industrial development.
According to him, there was a need to support indigenous companies to thrive, adding that the gas space remained a key avenue to grow local content.
A Governing Council Member at Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mina Oforiokuma said with progress being made by countries like Mozambique, Nigeria needs to learn and move fast to address bottlenecks.
Speaking on the expansion of local content across sectors, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Wabote noted that the government may consider a local content department across ministries to develop.
Wabote said: “That’s the only way you can get benefit out of the implementation because what people forget is that NCDMB is like a department within the ministry of petroleum resources saddled with the responsibility of driving local content within the oil and gas industry and controlled by the Ministry in the same way.”
Senator Folarin noted that the government remained concerned about the development of indigenous companies, adding that the move would address inefficiencies, in the long run reduce cost of projects and build strong local companies that can compete globally.
He revealed that some of the key sectors that would be primarily targeted are power, ICT, manufacturing, agriculture and others.
PHCCIMA Boss Lists Core Service Areas
The 62nd President of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Mines, Industries and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Sir Mike Elechi said his administration shall have member oriented, inclusive programmes and opportunities as its hallmark and guiding principles.
Elechi said this during his investiture as the PHCCIMA President in Port Harcourt during the week.
He also listed consolidation of growth, peace, unity, increased scope of programme dispensation and internally generated revenue as part of his core mandate to be delivered to the people.
He said that these would be achieved within the confines of PHCCIMA’s constitution and that of the Country.
The President who was a permanent secretary before his retirement, pointed out that the choice of the key areas was as a result of deep reflection and wide consultation with relevant stakeholders in the society.
He said that his administration would reintroduce the monthly PHCCIMA meeting, develope a calendar of member oriented programmes and opportunities as well as trade mission travels and access for the benefit of its members.
On the issue of increased scope of programme dispensation and internally generated revenue, he said that it would be realised by creating an atmosphere of welcome and corporate opportunity.
“Another way out among others, was engagement of various governments both state and local, with business strategies especially non oil businesses”, he said.
In his address, the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Ferdinand Anabrabra, urged those that are yet to be registered with PHCCIMA to hurry and do so in order to meet up with the current speed of the organisation.
Anabrabra, anchored his point on the passion that the new President and his team have for the body, which will definitely pay off.
Also speaking, the former President of Nigerian Bar Association ( NBA), Hon Onueze C.J . Okocha, said that Elechi’s whealt of experience would enable him do the expected.
”As a career Civil Servant and a successful businessman cum Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Vintage Farm and Products in ElelIkwerre Local Government of the state, his administration would be successful.
The Tide gathered that the Elechi-led PHCCIMA executive would elapse in the next three years.
By: King Onunwor
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