From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday urged operators in the petroleum industry to take advantage of the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to promote their investments in the oil and gas sector.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said this at an audience with a team from ExxonMobil Corporation led by Liam Mallon, its President on Upstream Oil and Gas.
According to the President: “I will expect the ExxonMobil companies in Nigeria to avail themselves of the opportunities created by the Petroleum Industry Act and invest in further development of the Nigerian assets in line with our national interest.
“It is our expectations that your company will also support our desire to deepen gas utilization and monetization aimed at reducing our carbon footprint and facilitating economic growth and development of our country.”
President Buhari also enjoined the ExxonMobil chief to collaborate on a bigger scale with the NNPC to realize the full potentials of the abundant gas resources in Nigeria.
“We look forward to ExxonMobil engaging in deeper collaboration and partnership with the New NNPC and other Nigerian institutions to ensure optimum exploitation of the abundant Oil and Gas resources in Nigeria while also aligning the processes with the global drive towards carbon neutrality,” said the President.
He commended his guests for their commitment to continue to be a bigger player in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry: “We thank you very much for the reassuring words on your continued presence in Nigeria with the promise of expanding your investments in the Deep-water.
“This will no doubt be further facilitated by the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act which is designed to provide a competitive fiscal framework and a world class regulatory framework that is at par with our global peers.”
Mallon had told the President that ExxonMobil, which has done business in Nigeria for over 60 years, remained as committed and strong as ever, though it was divesting from the Joint Venture (shallow water) with NNPC, assuring that whoever emerges buyer “must be a capable operator. We won’t compromise on that at all. The party must have the capacity to make growth vision happen. And we will be very transparent about it.”
He commended President Buhari on the successful way the country handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and also for the passage into law of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“We started work on the PIB about 20 years ago, you have now brought it to a closure. I know how much effort went into it. We are proud of your leadership,” he said.