March 1, 2024

The need to harness outcomes of conferences in the development of oil and gas industry


Energyday Editorial

The just concluded 39th Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), is another in the series of numerous talkshows in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

Usually at such events a suffice of suggestions, castigations of regulatory agency and government for poor policy decisions, and a whole buffet on the way forward are made by oil and gas pundits and experts.

For us at EnergyDay, we believe that these annual events were designed for “experts” and “stakeholders” to jawjaw and put forward suggestions on how to make the sector and its ancillaries work for the overall benefits of the country.

In these orgies of ritualistic conferences, ideas and suggestions are never in short supply, while an encyclopedic comparisons are made with oil and gas nations such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia and their national oil company such as ARAMCO, with a view to pointing out how those oil and gas- rich nations got it right for the good of their people and the country.

However, the intriguing point here seems to be that these conferences merely end up with high faluting ideas on pages of newspapers while the forums lasts; thereafter the issues tackled are left to fizzle out on their own, only for the ritual to be repeated the following year.

While we are not disputing the pontifications and forward-looking take on many of these issues such as poor infrastructure, finance and weak forex and many other that they say stand in the way of achieving success in the oil and gas sector; we are deeply concerned that beyond this annual ritual which can be likened to a tea party, after these conferences, as there seems to be that no meaningful attempts are ever made by either the organisers of such conferences or these experts and technocrats to take concrete steps to translate the decision made to concrete actionable plans or policies that can lead to developing the infrastructure, including our refineries on their own.

The usual pattern is to engage in trading blames which has failed to yield any benefit to either the government or the citizens.

We are miffed at the fact that nothing has been achieved by the numerous conferences organised by stakeholders in the sector, neither is there any record in the public domains that the outcomes of previous ones were ever passed to the necessary authorities for action.

In this wise, it would seem and regrettably so, that all of these conferences, seminars and workshops have been nothing but a jamboree, and it should not have been so.

For us at EnergyDay, an expert ideas and suggestions can only become meaningful if they are translated to action, and this is where the idea of professional bodies and government finding a common ground is important.

This can become an actuality if these professional bodies can reach out to government at the end of every conference, possibly lobby their way through to ensure that government accept and implement the outcome of these conferences in formulating policy decisions, not only on oil and gas, but in all sectors of the economy.

We’re convinced that if this had been the situation there would have been a remarkable development in our oil and gas industry.

EnergyDay is aware of significant challenges in the sector even in the post Petroleum Industry Act regime and some of these challenges will not go away until there is a synergy between outcomes of expert conferences and government.

Now that there’s a global call for greener energy and the push towards Net- Zero Emissions, the global oil and gas is definitely expected to witness a seismic paradigm shift and to navigate through the challenges it will bring, government alone can not do the thinking.

EnergyDay makes bold to state that carbon emissions attributable to the Pentagon alone is larger than that coming from the 140 poorest countries of the world. Yet we are again being bullied to self-asphyxiate on this fossil fuel ban.

We should think of building a coalition of countries who are interested in growing their industries using their resources including fossil energy. Let the satiated countries go green.

Therefore there is a need for significant inputs from experts and industry stakeholders to enable us make meaningful progress as a nation blessed with huge natural resources.

It is in this wise, that these forums should reach out to necessary government agencies even as the government and its agencies must embrace meaningful suggestions offered to improve the sector in particular and the country in general.

Though, there are quite a lot of arguments in many quarters that the communiques of previous conferences were sent to government without any utilisation of the recommendations, we call on the current administration to take a look at whatever recommendations brought to it by conferences where solutions are proferred on any aspect of the economy by experts and stakeholders.

Interestingly, government’s representatives are always present in these talk shops, but the question that readily come to mind is what is the purpose of their participation if they are not going to implement the outcomes without political doctoring of reports.

Obviously, the combined efforts of government, conferences by experts and industry stakeholders will be needed to mitigate the political and security risks in sector to attract new investments to drive forward the sector to the next stage of energy development.

It’s evident that low oil prices in recent years have discouraged new investments, but it is encouraging that prices are beginning to rise again.

We call on the federal government to expedite action on full implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act in toto, without allowing politics to come into play.

Already, before the passage of the Act, different patterns of macroeconomic mismanagement and poor sectoral governance, as well as dissimilar political pressures, have led to 20- year delay in implementation.

It is the considered view of EnergyDay that with sincere implementation of the Act and a robust synergy between experts’ conferences in oil and gas and the government, the industry will soon witness a tremendous growth and exponential rise in opportunities.

Part of the challenge before was the absence of economic diversification in the Nigerian boom years, dysfunctional sector institutions, and continued dependence on foreign oil expertise, in spite of the Local Content.

This state of affairs had affected the country significantly in fiscal terms as well as with the drying up of corporate investment in the oil sector.

The reality is despite the global call for energy transition from fossil fuel to cleaner resources, there are indications that oil and gas will remain relevant in Nigeria and other countries for a much longer time.

Though pundits have already stated that shifting to clean energy resources, including solar and wind, will significantly reduce the demand for oil and gas, as well as the revenues of producing and exporting nations. But the truth is the seismic paradigm shift will take time and will be gradual in Africa, and Nigeria in particular.

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