Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva on Thursday stated that the federal government is strategising to ensure efficient oil and gas sector in the post COVID-19 era.
Speaking at the 13th International Conference of the NAEE in Abuja, Sylva stated that the ongoing transformation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC into a diversified energy company and the increased focus on domestic gas utilization, were major strategies adopted that would strengthen the oil and gas industry and help cushion the effect of a future crash in crude oil price.
The COVID-19 pandemic and progressive decline in crude oil prices in 2020, had made it imperative for Nigeria to aggressively pursue the diversification of its portfolio to non-oil businesses so as to cushion the effect of a future crash in crude oil prices and position the oil and gas industry for growth in a post-COVID world, according to Sylva.
He added that the future and survival of many players depend not only on cleaner energy but also on the ability to deploy lower cost solutions and seek diversification from crude oil to cleaner energy.
Sylva said the country was proposing a post COVID-19 era where the transformed national oil firm will be swift to respond to oil prices fall and carbon emission reduction.
In her address, National President of the NAEE, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, also warned that the Nigerian petroleum industry might be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the industry currently lacks the capacity to change and adapt to global trends.
She stated that, Nigeria presently stands at a critical moment as a petroleum dependent nation.
There was an urgent need to critically understand and unravel energy and petroleum issues in a post-COVID-19 world and see how best the country could weather the inevitable storm, she added.
“What is worrying is that the Nigerian petroleum industry has so far exhibited a worrying incapacity to change and adapt, as evidenced by about 20 years of petroleum reform that has refused to even take the first step of enacting badly needed legislation.
“This is tragic, because even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria had ceased to be a beautiful bride, several new producers were springing up in Africa, and all over the world and the green movement is becoming a reality,” she said
Also, Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, (PTDF), Dr Bello Gusau, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly impacted on its programmes, especially as most of its human capital development programmes were conducted overseas and through physical meetings.
Gusau, who was represented by General Manager, Strategic Planning of the PTDF, Mr Jide Adebulehin, explained that in the second quarter of 2020, many of these programmes were severely disrupted due to physical distancing protocols and closure of airports among others.
“The prospect of declining revenue from oil, high inflation, high cost of materials and the advent of a recession, have impacted the development of new infrastructural projects and completion of ongoing projects is now at a very high cost.
“In addition, there have been reduced opportunity for industry stakeholders’ collaboration and linkages.
“However, to mitigate these challenges, the fund had to quickly review its operations to eradicate manual processes, to pave way for new automated flow work that are safer and efficient.
“It is necessary that as 2020 winds up, the various challenges should be considered as learning points for players in the petroleum industry,” he said.