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Deputy Oil Minister Lokpobiri Says Nigeria’s Oil Sector Received $16.6bn Investment Commitments In 9 Months

State Petroleum Minister Lokpobiri reported an increase in Nigeria’s oil, condensate production from 1.1 million bpd to 1.7 million bpd

The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, on Thursday gave a scorecard of his stewardship since assuming office last year, disclosing that the sector has had about a cumulative $16.6 billion in commitments from investors.

Speaking at a ministerial sector update in Abuja organised by the Federal Ministry of Information, the minister also said that under him, Nigeria’s oil and condensate production have risen from 1.1 million barrels per day to 1.7 million bpd, a growth of about 600,000 bpd.

When he assumed office, Lokpobiri stated that the biggest challenge met by the administration was a dire lack of investment in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, due to the protracted passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and inconsistent government policies, which drove potential investment to other climates.

As such, he said that the primary policy thrust was, and remains, to increase production because increased production is the lowest hanging fruit for Nigeria’s economic recovery.

He listed some of the challenges he met on the ground as: Conflicts among partners, divestment issues, inconsistent policies, insecurity, and bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Consequently, over the past nine months, he said that the ministry has been dedicated to removing the obstacles, restoring investor confidence, and ensuring an enabling environment for business in the oil and gas sector to thrive.

“Our foremost achievement is the significant increase in production. When we took office, production was at approximately 1.1 million barrels per day, including condensates. Today, I am proud to report that we have increased our production to approximately 1.7 million barrels per day (inclusive of condensate).

“This increase is a testament to our relentless efforts to streamline operations and resolve conflicts among stakeholders. Steps taken to increase crude oil production include: Efforts towards revamping redundant oil assets to active status

“Continuous engagement with IOCs and Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG) members in resolving industry disputes towards increasing production. Resolutions of internal joint venture contracts feud between joint ventures partners on critical production fields.

“Engaging local communities with critical assets running through them to protect the assets all in a bid to decrease oil theft in the country. Consolidating existing security framework with private security firms and government security agencies for pipeline surveillance, which led to sharp decline in crude oil theft and thus increased production for export.

“During this period, we also experienced the coming on stream of OMLs 13 (Sterling Exploration) and 85 (First E&P), with the respective assets reaching first oil in the development of their licenses.

“These assets are expected to produce an average of 20,000 and 40,000 barrels per day respectively. One of our main objectives has been to create an environment where investment can thrive. For over a decade, the non-passage of the PIA and inconsistent policies had driven investments away. Today, I am pleased to announce that our efforts have rekindled investor confidence in the sector.

“Investments committed to the tune of $5 billion and $10 billion respectively in deepwater offshore assets; and $1.6 billion investment commitment in oil and gas asset acquisition,” he disclosed.

He also highlighted the very high global interest noted in the ongoing bid round of assets coming online, arising from the recent roadshow activities in the US and Europe.

He said the government has been working to eliminate the bureaucracies and bottlenecks that have stifled investment for over a decade by resolving conflicting issues and fostering a more consistent policy and business friendly environment.

He explained that there has been an extension of oil prospecting licenses to technically and financially capable indigenous and international companies all geared towards increasing production as well as providing ministerial consent to companies to divest some of their equity in their assets to companies of proven technical and financial capability.

“As I have mentioned on numerous occasions you do not need to know me for me to sign off on your asset acquisition application, once you are of proven technical and financial capacity I will sign off,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lokpobiri has restated the commitment of the federal government to create the enabling environment that would attract more investments to the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy.

Lokpobiri stated this in his address to a  delegation from Schlumberger (SLB) Ltd. led by its global Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Olivier Le Peuch, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja on Thursday.

He remarked that one of the cardinal objectives of President Bola Tinubu was to unlock the potential in the oil and gas sector so that Nigeria would  be able to harness the benefits of  huge deposits that we have.

“I want to assure you that this new government that is led by a man who is a tested businessman is willing to do things differently, and we the foot soldiers can’t do anything less,”  a statement signed by the Deputy Director of Press, Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa, added.

“We know in Nigeria that the quickest way out of our economic problems is through the oil and gas sector. Our objective is to see how we can work with you to grow investment in the sector, increase production so that we can get more revenue to cater for the 230 million Nigerians that are in dire need of basic infrastructures,” he said.

In his remarks, the global Chief Executive Officer  of Schlumberger, Le Peuch, gave the assurance that they were ready to work and partner with the government.

“We are ready to contribute to the change that you are willing to put in place to facilitate investment in the oil and gas sector,”he said

On his part, the President, Offshore Atlantic, Mr. Wallace Pescarini, said they were in Nigeria to assist and  partner in the development of the oil and gas sector.

Emmanuel Addeh

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