From Dennis Mernyi, Abuja
OIL and gas experts have identified the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the National Assembly as being responsible for the present state of the industry.
They also decried the state of the industry, insisting that urgent action needs to be taken to resuscitate it for sustainable development.
Speaking in Abuja at the opening of a seminar tagged, “Save Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry” organised by African Initiative for Transparency, Accountability and Responsible Leadership (AFRITAL), former President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun, stated that the current challenges facing the country, including its inability to finance cash-call obligations, falling oil reserves in the onshore oil fields, insecurity in the operating areas and lack of effective mechanisms to monitor government stake in the Joint Venture arrangements were inimical to smooth running of the industry.
He said Nigeria, a leading oil nation in Africa, is regrettably poor and is going cap in hand begging for loan from other countries.
Ogbeifun also lamented that 16 years after the Oil and Gas Implementation Committee (OGIC) was set up to reform the sector, Nigeria has no political will to pass the PIB for better performance and efficiency of the industry thereby losing huge sums annually through sharp practices by International Oil Companies (OICs) with their collaborators within the system.
According to him, the current transformation initiatives can only be meaningful if obsolete and out-dated laws were done away with in accordance with international best practices, stressing that operations in the industry are, to say the least, opaque and lacking in transparency and accountability.
Ogbeifun also noted that divergent interests on the part of government and the IOCs contribute in no small measure to the slow pace of growth in the industry, stressing that while government is encouraging participation of indigenous companies for domestication of expertise, the IOCs are busy guarding their technologies and expertise from any perceived competition including the host country.
Also speaking at the occasion, President/Director General of International Institute of Leadership and Governance, Dr. Paddy Njoku, said the “preponderance of expatriate workers has resulted in a paucity of jobs, skills development, capacity building and utilisation for the indigenous workforce and in the long run, a lack of sustained national economic development.”