On June 20, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mallam Mele Kyari as the 19th group managing director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). At the time, many Nigerians thought it was one of the regular appointments to favour close associates and to satisfy the northern oligarchy.
Kyari’s assumption of office was not immediate though, as the President directed him to work closely with his predecessor, the late Maikanti Baru, who had less than one month to retire from the service of the NNPC.
On July 8, 2019, Kyari mounted the saddle of Nigeria’s state oil corporation with a promise to run a transparent and accountable NNPC. He pledged to open the books of the corporation to scrutiny anchored on his Transparency, Accountability, Performance Excellence (TAPE) vision. He equally pledged to turn around the corporation’s fortunes and place it at par with other leading state oil corporations across the globe.
One year down the line, stakeholders in the country’s oil and gas industry are hailing the appointment of a professional who understands the industry and has been able to steer the ship even in turbulent times occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, which has dropped oil prices to an all-time low.
An Abuja-based public affairs analyst, Godwin Odioko, said: “Mallam Kyari has ensured the following, among other achievements: uninterrupted fuel supply, EGTL dispute settlement, NLNG Train 7 Final Investment Decision (FID), Deepwater Offshore Act amendment, production of above 2.1 million barrels per day, except for the OPEC cut, led the oil and gas industry to respond to COVID-19 and automation of business processes, including sales processes.
“He has also caused the reduction of unit operating cost of production from $35 per barrel to $25 per barrel and targeting $10 per barrel. With Kyari, there is no need to fear about bad oil management. NNPC management should, therefore, not be distracted but concentrate in turning around the corporation, for the benefit of all.’’
Publicity secretary of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Mr. Lateef Amodu, said, in one year, Kyari has been able to stabilise the industry through robust policies that have helped stakeholders make informed investment decisions.
He added that Kyari’s focus on infrastructure development would go a long way in bridging the needs gap of the industry, saying last week’s flag-off of the $2.8 billion Ajaokuta-Kano-Kaduna (AKK) gas pipeline project was a good example.
He equally scored Kyari high for being the first NNPC GMD since the creation of the corporation to publish its audited financial statement (AFS).
Many stakeholders have described the 2018 AFS as a game changer for the industry, noting that investors are getting to know that allegations of opaqueness often associated with the corporation might be untrue after all. They insisted that the AFS would open up the industry for fresh foreign direct investment (FDI).
The AFS is a full disclosure of the corporation’s books, involving those of 19 strategic business units and a corporate services unit.
The corporation has disclosed that its 2019 AFS would be ready in a couple of months.
Executive director of the global Extractive Industries Transparency International’s (EITI), Mr. Mark Robinson, said the publication of the AFS was made public in record time. He commended the corporation for setting a new standard of reporting. Robinson’s praise of NNPC was posted on the global body’s official Twitter handle.
Executive secretary of the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio, described the decision of NNPC to make public its audited accounts on its website for the first time in its history as laudable.
The string of upstream successes was sustained with the resolution of the intractable Shell/Belema Oil–OML 25 Community crisis. For over two years, the host communities in Kula Kingdom of Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State were pitted in a bitter conflict against the operator over sundry community issues.
The intervention of the Kyari-led NNPC management culminated in rapprochement that did not only guarantee restoration of peace to the host communities and environs but also ensured the restoration of 35,000 barrels daily production of crude oil.
Within the period under focus, the Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), an NNPC upstream subsidiary in charge of acquisition and interpretation of seismic data, achieved 20 per cent year-on-year revenue growth and completion of eight reservoir studies alongside the upgrade of IDSL’s data processing centre.
In the frontier basin, a new crude oil and gas province was unveiled to the world with the discovery of commercial hydrocarbon deposits in Kolmani River II Well in Gongola Basin, Upper Benue trough. The feat brought to a successful climax over 40 years of spirited search for commercial crude oil deposits in the inland sedimentary basin. The discovery awaits presidential launch.
Amodu acknowledged the courage of Kyari to stop the further payment of subsidy on petrol, saying his political will to free up funds for other critical sector of the economy is worthy of praises.
“This is not the right time to be the GMD of NNPC because the coronavirus pandemic is taking a negative toll on the operations of the oil industry. But despite the challenges, the NNPC GMD has been able to carry the industry along through constant engagement and dialogue.’’
A member of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), in Apapa, Lagos, Cletus Adaba, said, within the last 12 months, an appraisal of the fuel supply and distribution system in the country would indicate the total disappearance of fuel queues.
‘‘Significant as this feat may appear, a further inquest into the downstream activities would reveal the entrenchment of measures, which would not only provide the uninterrupted supply and distribution of petroleum products but would guarantee efficient and accountable availability of fuel from vessel to the final fuel tank of the consumers,” he noted.
An operator in the downstream sector, Mr. Muhammed Sanusi, said the above was made possible by the introduction of Operation White, a transparency initiative designed to make petroleum products imports, supply and distribution more effective and accountable.
According to him, the first phase of the three-phase project was launched with the successful inauguration of an 89-man Products Monitoring Team (PMT) mandated to employ technology and human resources for a round-the-clock monitoring of products supply, discharge and truck-out activities nationwide.
The initiative, he added, also enhances energy security through containment of unwholesome PMS distribution in-country and improves transparency and accountability in the nation’s downstream sector. Ultimately, it would provide job opportunities for Nigerians and help arrest social unrest.
A petroleum product marketer at the NNPC depot in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mrs. Mulikat Ajisafe, said the NNPC management under Kyari also resuscitated the Ilorin depots last year, bringing an end to eight years of inactivity in the facility. She said Kyari has also energised NNPC Retail Limited with the grand entry of the company’s lubricants into the nation’s engine oil market. The package, according to her, has on offer Nitro (Diamond, Gold, Super, 2T) and Nitro Super 40, all designed for petrol-power engines, while the diesel propelled engines have the Rhino (Rhino HD40 & Rhino X) engine oils.
Many stakeholders, including the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has commended Mallam Kyari for his leadership in rallying stakeholders in the oil and gas Industry to provide material support to the Federal Government as well as state governments in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
Operating under the auspices of the Petroleum Industry Intervention on COVID-19, the NNPC led Initiative has thus far earmarked N21billion to provide support.