From Uche Usim, Abuja
Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, may have buried the hatchet as the two harped on the need for a strong and independent regulator for the oil sector as contained in the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The duo spoke yesterday at the ongoing 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit holding in Abuja.
According to Kachikwu: “The actors, the players and the regulators and one thing for sure is that in whatever model of PIB that we are pushing, the point that Dr Baru made is very key to see an independent regulator with very enormous powers, with less of political interface so that individuals could do their work . And I am also whittling down the powers of the minister so that these institutions could work and work well. The reality is that no one will work as a minister forever. You are going to hand over that portfolio. We should be looking for the system surviving and been able to work well. So, I think if you look at the issues that come up, there are a lot of emphasis on that independence.
On diversification from oil, Kachikwu said the Federal Government would develop policies that will prepare Nigeria for an economy outside fossil energy as the demand for crude oil is projected to take the downward curve globally.
He said the move was to ensure the country is not taken unawares because in recent times, countries like France, Germany, China, Norway and the United States had set targets when they will stop powering their vehicles and machinery with fossil energy as it remains hazardous to human and the environment.
Kachikwu, who moderated a panel discussion on energy in a break out session at the economic summit with the Group Managing Director of NNPC, however, said the Federal Government was currently dealing with the fundamentals of ensuring that the refineries work to meet Nigeria’s energy demands.
“The first thing first is to develop the policies and to do that, the NNPC would have to take over the commercial aspects because they are going to be the one deploying it.
“As the Refineries get kitted up, obviously, we would continue to look at new fossils development programmes and will see a need to pump out policies that would enable Nigerians see the advantages in terms of costs”, he stated.
On the issues raised by the panels on marginal field production, Kachikwu said the government was determined to ensure transparency in the bidding process so that the public is not insulated from its dealings.
“These are some of the issues the Niger Delta communities always are inquiring about and indeed all Nigerians. The more transparent it is,the better for us. Another key question regarding ensuring the local communities in the Niger-Delta are carried out.
“We are developing models to ensure better regulations geared towards transparency in the bidding process,and we would alert Mr.President as soon as we are done, Kachikwu notes further.
In his remarks, the NNPC GMD, Dr Maikanti Baru, raised concerns that only nine out 14 of those who won the bidding process for the marginal fields were operating, which, he said, was not a good development.
Kachikwu in response to the GMD’s assertion said the Ministry would work towards ensuring that concerns and constraints that had hindered the remaining companies who have not swung into action on the marginal oil fields are appropriately addressed.