BY Victoria Ogunrinde
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declared that Nigeria will strengthen its position as regional leader in the oil and gas industry, even as his administration will spare no effort in ensuring maximum benefit from the nation’s huge natural resources.
In a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adeshina, Buhari was quoted as saying that “the Federal government will continue to leverage oil and gas for development and pursue economic diversification across all sectors.”
Meanwhile, the President who presided at the virtual inauguration of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre (NOGEC) at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) headquarters, Lagos, recalled that “at the beginning of this administration, we set a clear roadmap for the oil and gas sector in order to increase value from the nation’s huge resource potentials and create opportunities for investors, both local and foreign, when I declared that: ‘Nigeria is Open for Business.”
”I am delighted that since then, we have witnessed major Final Investment Decisions in the sector such as the AKK Pipeline project, the NLNG Train-7 project, and the completion of the 5,000 barrels per day Waltersmith Modular refinery,” he said.
”Our renewed drive for economic diversification using the oil and gas industry as a pivot remains on track as we expand government revenues and deploy it to grow our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generate employment and contribute to eliminating poverty in Nigeria.
”This National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre will serve as an integrated resource complex to drive safety, value and cost efficiency in the industry. It is therefore another milestone in the development of oil and gas sector and the realisation of greater value for the country,” he added.
Buhari while underscoring the importance of the Integrated Centre in enhancing the contribution of the oil and gas sector to the nation’s GDP as well as strengthening Nigeria’s position as regional leader in the industry, noted that the Centre has opened a new set of opportunities for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry in terms of investments, cost reduction, safety in operations and capacity development.
He said, ”the establishment of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre aligns with our administration’s commitment to foster stability, growth and sustainability of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry consistent with the economic development and sustainability agenda articulated in the National Petroleum Policy 2017, National Gas Policy 2017, Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Economic Sustainability Plan, 2020.”
President Buhari therefore urged all industry practitioners and stakeholders to support the task of nation building to realise the abundant opportunities in the country.
On the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy, the president who noted that global economies were faced with unprecedented challenges and severe shocks in the wake of pandemic in 2020, added that Nigeria was not spared from the impact of the COVID-19 as oil price crash and OPEC production cuts with direct impact on government revenue projections and national economy.
”However, we are emerging more resilient in 2021 owing, in part, to efforts of the agencies of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources who work under my leadership and the direct supervision of the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, to keep oil & gas production levels stable, optimise government revenues, and ensure domestic energy security,” he said.
”The creation of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre at this time is further demonstration that the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry has come of age, even against the odds.
”The Centre will serve as oil & gas industry cost-reduction centre and hub for industry best practices, technical support and competence.
”It will also act as the oil and gas techno-economic bureau to support the Government and its entities in policy development and implementation efforts,” he added.
In his remarks, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva explained that the integrated Centre encompasses five units, designed to comprehensively cover key areas of the industry while enhancing safety, value and cost efficiency.
The units are: Search, Rescue and Surveillance, Command and Control Centre (SERAS) ; National Improved Oil Recovery Centre; Oil and Gas Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre; Oil and Gas Competence Development Centre and Integrated Data Mining and Analytics Centre.
On SERAS, the Minister further explained that it is a flagship programme of the centre designed to enhance safety management, emergency preparedness and response, and routine transportation for bed-space management.
”SERAS will therefore drive cost reduction and improve operational efficiency across the industry. Conservatively, it is projected that upon full implementation of SERAS the annual industry expenditure for offshore and remote locations, flight logistics and emergency response will reduce by 50 per cent,” he said.