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IOCs seek improved security, enabling environment for businesses to thrive

By John Ofikhenua, Abuja

Improved security and implementation of policies in the oil and gas industry will create a better environment for businesses to thrive, International Oil Companies (IOCs) have said.

They spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at the fourth edition of the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS).

The companies noted that the challenge in the industry is not lack of polices but their non-implementation by authorities and agencies of government.

They called for enhanced security and an enabling environment for investments so that businesses can thrive.

The IOCs also called for an end to policy and project reversals to enable the country attain economic sustainability.

Speaking at a session, titled: “CEO Roundtable,” Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Osagie Okunbor, said the country’s oil and gas industry has well-articulated policies that are not adhered to.

According to him, the setting up of projects that have emanated from the same policies has been a Herculean task.

He said: “Our problem, frankly at this stage, is not policies; it is not the framework. Starting from the Nigerian Gas Master Plan of 2008, Nigeria Gas Policy of 2017, Gas Commercialisation Framework and Flare Reduction and now the Year of Gas and Decade of Gas, we have very well-articulated policies.

“Our issue now is the execution. Execution is to essentially get the projects that derive from these policies to bring them to fruition.”

Managing Director of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr. Monday Ovuede, urged the Federal Government to boost security to enable the country attract investors.

“We have to make sure we have a good handle over the security situation to make sure that investors that are looking at competing alternatives are attracted to this country.

“We have seen instances of how the security situation has impacted on the safety of operators,” he said.

Managing Director of ExxonMobil Nigeria, Mr. Richard Laing, also harped on the essence of tight security to bolster investments.

Seeking an adherence to the sanctity of contract, the company chief noted that there is too much stress of doing business in Nigeria.

“We have to find a path around security, around the sanctity of contract and around the stress that Nigeria brings,” he said.

According to him, it takes a longer time to execute projects in Nigeria than elsewhere.

Okunbor, who also sought an enabling environment for the industry, recalled that the Senate President was at the summit on Monday and promised to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in June.

He decried the little contribution that gas reserves have contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the country.

“I looked at the number. I think it was in one of the sessions we had earlier yesterday. Tony made reference to Qatar: 14 trains, over 50 per cent contribution to the GDP. Oil and gas in our country, together, is still short of 10 per cent,” Okunbor said.

He said SPDC and Seplat were on a half a billion cubic feet project of gas.

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