21 June 2019

Nigeria: 'New NNPC Appointments to Spur Reserves' Increase, Reforms'

Lagos and Abuja — Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector have expressed confidence in the appointment of a new management team for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), describing it as a move to shore up reserves and reposition the corporation.

Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) Chairman, Bank Anthony Okoroafor, said the appointment of a new team for the NNPC shows that the administration wants to build oil reserves, and is serious about repositioning the petroleum industry, especially the state-owned oil company.

He said Kyari, whom the NNPC described as a quintessential crude oil marketer with prerequisite certification and outfield pedigree in petroleum economics and crude oil and gas trading, is a seasoned geologist, and also understands a lot about building reserves.

Okoroafor also noted that the appointment of Roland Onoriode Ewubare (South-South), as the Chief Operating Officer, Upstream, is equally a good one, as he described him as a technocrat who understands the industry.

"By taking the right decision, the industry will move in the right direction," he added.Similarly, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio, in a twitter message, said: "Mele Kyari's appointment is a well-deserved appointment, and an intimation of more openness and reforms in the national oil company."

Adio in a statement noted that as a member of the global EITI working group on commodity trading transparency, Kyari's appointment has placed him in a vantage position to push the frontiers of openness, and to work more closely with NEITI and the global EITI to implement remedial issues in NEITI's reports.

He added that the implementation of the findings of NEITI's reports will not just be effective for operations of NNPC, but also for optimisation of benefits of the oil and gas sector to Nigeria and Nigerians. Also, the Secretary General, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo, in a congratulatory message to Kyari, said his appointment "is a testament to your exemplary record and exceptional performance over the many years you have worked for NNPC in a variety of roles." Barkinbdo equally looked forward to Kyari's continued involvement in OPEC, where he had once served under the Economic Commission Board (ECB).

On his part, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, expressed optimism that the new team will push for the necessary reforms in the oil and gas sector. He noted that one of the major shortcomings of the past four years was the total absence of the desired reforms in the petroleum sector, with the NNPC at the centre of a lot of the issues.

"It will be a good thing if the new team will be pro-reforms and influence the direction of policies so that the sector can contribute meaningfully to the economy and aid the realisation of its potential both for investments, diversification within the sector and government revenue," he added.

Former President, The Nigerian Association for Energy Economics (NAEE), Prof. Wunmi Iledare, said: "I am familiar with 80% of the new team, and they are all insiders with a high degree of technical competence. I am sure there will be some degree of continuity. Interestingly too, there is a room for genuine handover, which is another plus compared to the past. This is commendable.

"However, taking NNPC to the next level requires a competent Board that is apolitical. Appointments to the Board must not be based on balancing geopolitical zones. It must necessarily be meritorious when thinking of NNPC's Board of Directors. Again, this is the essence of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

"I am hopeful that the president will have the courage to have a substantive Minister of Petroleum. NNPC agency role must be eliminated if this new technically competent NNPC management board is to deliver on the expected KPIs.

"PIGB must become law to reduce the dependence of the President on NNPC for advice. The new GMD must understand that he is first among equals and work with his team. I am very pleased with this team because I have had encounters with them and I hope they will understand the task ahead."

For the Founder and Principal Partner, Chancery Associates, Emeka Okwuosa, there are concerns about the policy direction of the administration."From the outset, I don't really know and or understand the policy thrust of this administration either in terms of transparency and accountability in the oil sector, or reducing gas flaring, and or passage of the PIB, as the PIB has been in abeyance for a while.

"I don't believe new appointments will ginger this government or lead to new policy initiatives as we are just recycling personnel but policies still remain otiose and inchoate-it is not yet Uhuru. We have wasted so many years doing nothing! Very sad indeed," he added.

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