Organization of Petrroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has endorsed the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently undergoing review in the National Assembly, saying the provision for transformation of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to become a commercial player was reasonable.
Secretary General of the oil exporters' group, Mr. Abdalla El-Badri, who was in Abuja on a working visit told reporters at a workshop on activities of the group that it OPEC was following trends in the Nigerian petroleum industry, adding that the reforms in the sector was in the right direction.
He however declined comments on the dispute between the oil multinationals in the country and government over some of the provisions of the bill which entail alteration of operating agreements with the oil companies.
Mr. El-Badri who said the group does not interfere with the internal affairs and policies of member countries however pointed out that his understanding of the core objectives of the bill suggested that government was positioning the industry to derive optimum value from petroleum resources.
According to him, the principal objective should be to transform the activities of the NNPC from revenue collector to revenue earner through competitive commercial operations at home and offshore.
He pointed out that most national oil companies have exited passive ooperations to compete favourably with international oil companies. He cited Chinese oil firms, Norwegian Statoil, Brazilian Petrobras, South Africa's Sasol, Malaysian Petronas and Korean KNOC as some of the national oil companies that have transformed into global competitors.
He said the objectives of OPEC at inception was to use national oil companies in developing the capacity to retrieve the industry from commercial multinationals that have dominated operations in OPEC countries.
He pointed out that the international oil companies have however helped in the development of resource rich countries and deserved the understanding of their host governments over issues of operating agreements.
He again said that the best ways to resolve such disputes would be decided by the governments of the country, adding that he has great confidence in the wisdom and industry reputation of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, to efficiently address issues arising from the reforms.
"This organisation was created to defend our rights against the multinationals and we've been able to do so. We have very successfully defended our rights. We create our national companies and now we are on equal basis. We have contracts with them the way we want. Member countries should really cooperate with the IOCs because they have the finance, they have the technology and we can cooperate together now because we are on equal basis, not as in the past.
"This industry is an international industry; really, you cannot depend on yourself, this deep drilling, there are very few companies that are specialised in it, and so we have to buy that technology. Nigeria or Libya or even Saudi Arabia cannot do everything on their own; they cannot have the seismic technology, they cannot have deep drilling, whether off shore or onshore.
"So, sometimes you have to rely on the services of other specialised companies who have nothing but this specialty."
The western collaboration in the search for fuel alternative to petroleum is no threat to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as no energy policy will diminish the dependence of world economies on hydrocarbon fuel in far future.
This is even as the group calls on members to use oil wealth to drive rapid industrialization of their economies before their output declines.
OPEC Secretary General, Mr. Abdalla El Badri who led the secretatiat staff of the organization on a working visit to Nigeria made it clear that the highly advertised crude oil revenue to member countries is ultimately spent in the industrialized countries.
He said OPEC members most of which are underdeveloped form the biggest markets for the industrialized countries of the world, expressing worry that if member countries missed the opportunity of driving industrialization they might find it difficult to sustain growth after the age of fossil fuel.
Mr. El Badri who spoke at a media chat with Nigerian journalists said the experiments with green fuel alternatives by and plans byn the United States to pursue independence from imported oil however do not pose threat to the market share of petroleum in the global energy mix.
According to him, oil would continue to be the dominant fuel in the world market in the foreseeable future.
According to him, talks, plans and experiments on alternative energy has been running for the past 30 years without any commercial volumes that could match the dominance of crude oil in the export market.
" I want to tell you that oil will remain the dominant energy for the foreseeable future. I have been hearing this from the United States presidents in the last 30 years; at least I am old enough to track this. There is nothing called independent energy.
"There is no way America will not rely on oil from the Middle East or any other exported oil," El-Badri explained, while responding to a question on President Barak Obama's policy on cutting down on America's dependence on imported oil.