Uche Usim, Abuja
Aside plans to build a petroleum refinery in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia authorities have also expressed readiness to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with President Muhammadu Buhari in May, which will buoy a robust infrastructure developmental blueprint for the oil and gas industry.
The Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih communicated the blessings of the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince, H.R.H. Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the planned partnership investment to the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia earlier this week at a high-level bilateral meeting.
According to him, the early draft of the MoU that will solidify the new oil and gas development partnership between Nigeria and Saudi Africa will be ready in the first week of May, adding that his team will ensure it scales all bureaucratic channels and secure the requisite approvals.
He revealed that the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) Governors for the two countries, Adeeb Y. Al-Aama (Saudi Arabia) and Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim (Nigeria) have been nominated to fast-track the process for official endorsements and signing.
“The agreement will, in principle, open the doors for Nigeria to potentially tap from Saudi Arabia’s highly-successful Aramco’s huge oil sector investments across the globe. Areas of interest will cover existing refinery revamp, building of a brand new refinery, LNG investments and product supply trading in crude and refined products”, he explained.
Khalid Al Falih also reiterated the possibility of establishing an independent refinery in Nigeria as the country considers Nigeria as the best hub to reach other African countries.
Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have, over the decades, enjoyed a robust bilateral relationship as Nigerian delegations who regularly go on pilgrimages to the holy land rank among the highest globally.
Responding, Kachikwu expressed his expectation that the signing of the MoU will further cement the cordial relationship between both nations. He added that the visit to Saudi Arabia became necessary due to the common grounds between the two countries and the success of the country in the oil and gas sector.
He disclosed that Nigeria aims to leverage on the huge success of the Saudi Government in the sector while name checking Saudi Aramco’s turnover of over $200 billion in the last year.
He further applauded the cooperation between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia at the highest global level of OPEC, while expressing his excitement that the two lead persons for the MoU drafting are seasoned OPEC Governors with the highest levels of competence.
Kachikwu, who led a high-powered delegation drawn from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency and Petroleum Equalization Fund for an exploratory visit to the oil-rich nation at the invitation of his Saudi counterpart, H.E. Khalid Al Falih, visited the Saudi Aramco headquarters in Dhahran where his delegation was met by the President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco, Amin H. Nasser and the top management of the conglomerate.
The visit was aimed at cementing the ongoing discussions on collaborating with the Federal Government of Nigeria on investments in the oil and gas sector. It also provided an opportunity for a close observation of Saudi Aramco’s command centre, the oil supply, planning and scheduling centre and the Geosteering Operations Center in the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center (EXPEC).