Kyari and the task to fix refineries

Nigerians may soon heave a sigh of relief if the vow by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari, comes to fruition. The new NNPC helmsman said before the end of the Buhari administration in 2023, all the four refineries will be working, while the country will become a net exporter of petroleum products. This, indeed, is a daunting but not insurmountable task.

Kyari made the vow at the opening of the 2019 annual conference and exhibition organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers on Monday in Lagos. He said that it is a shame that Nigeria remained a net importer of petroleum products. The theme of the conference is “Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Mobile Technology: Changing the Future of the Energy Industry.”

Kyari said although the journey will not be easy but that he will do the job with integrity. He called for the cooperation of all to make NNPC a global company. According to the NNPC boss, NNPC is challenged by the reality of its environment as the refineries are not operating optimally.

“Today, we are net importer of petroleum products which is a very big shame for us as a nation. And as for professionals, we can’t give any excuses, but today it’s a shame that this country is net importer of petroleum, but we are going to change that.

“NNPC is going to get its house together to fix the refineries. We want to make the refineries functional with at least 90 per cent capacity. Also, we want to support those who have the initiatives on refinery, and providing fiscal regime,’’ he said.

Kyari said he will reverse the trend of petroleum products importation in the country by rehabilitating the existing refineries and encouraging private sector investment in the sub-sector. “We must end the trend of fuel importation as an oil producing country. We will deliver on the rehabilitation of the four refineries within the life of this administration and support the private sector to build refineries. We will support the Dangote Refinery to come on stream on schedule. We will transform Nigeria into a net exporter of petroleum products.’’

He said the age-old federal government’s target of raising crude oil production and reserves to three million barrels per day and 40 billion barrels, respectively was possible. Kyari also said he would galvanise the corporation to achieve the target by 2023.

He said that there was no drought of artificial intelligence and big data which remained the issues today, which nobody could dispute. “This time we are determined, we will work together with stakeholders so that we will deliver on the mandate. We will ensure that the business environment is clearly diversified. Today, we have issues around fascia regime about contractual challenges which we promised to address.

“We must all work together as stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to bring up the appropriate legislation on the table. As you all know that since 1999 till date, effort to get the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) passed into law has not worked and this is a big challenge and disappointment for all of us,’’ Kyari said.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, said that in recent years, the industry had undergone tremendous changes.

Yemi-Esan said this showed due to the proliferation of new technologies where operators met the challenge of digital technologies.

She said the conference would not have been better discussed than today, adding that it was important to emphasise that stakeholder should not lose sight of the concept of the artificial intelligence.

The permanent secretary said that the artificial intelligence was assisting people in making accurate decision from the created intelligence. “I am encouraging you all to collaborate to bridge the skill gap required for effective utilisation of artificial intelligence. “This, especially, in terms of policies and regulatory level since it is the bedrock for operators and other stakeholders can build on.”

She urged business leaders in the oil and gas industry to embrace artificial intelligence and learn from those who had succeeded and invested in the technology.

Earlier, the Acting Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr Ahmad Shakur, said the agency had launched automation initiatives. Shakur listed this to include Crude Oil and LNG Tracking (COLT), Automatic Downstream System (ADS), Accelerated Lease Renewal Programme (ALRP) and others.

That Nigeria, which is the sixth largest crude oil exporter in the world, is a net importer of refined petroleum products that gulp over N1.4 trillion yearly in a fraudulent subsidy regime is not only deplorable but also a national embarrassment. It is inexplicable how the nation got into this web of highbrow sleaze of its cash cow, crude oil, which provides over 82 per cent of her revenue.

Kyari, who took over from Maikanti Baru on July 8, as the 19th NNPC GMD, has no doubt set a herculean task for himself as efforts to turn around the nation’s four refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri have failed woefully. We, therefore, advise the NNPC helmsman not to spare any effort or pander to any sacred cow including the so called subsidy cabal that may prove an albatross to his success.

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