Nigeria’s petroleum downstream sub-sector, especially refineries, pipelines and others may witness a major overhaul following ongoing talks between the Federal Government and the Saudi authorities in Riyadh.
The Minister of Energy Industry and Mineral Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Khalid Al Falih, yesterday expressed his country’s readiness to invest in Nigeria’s petroleum industry and others across the African continent as part of efforts to expand its business operations.
While Al Falih had earlier hinted of the kingdom’s interest in the most populous black nation during a visit last year, the interest was renewed when President Muhammadu Buhari sent a delegation, headed by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, to discuss areas of mutual collaboration especially in the midstream and downstream sectors with the Asian nation.
While both countries are major crude producers, Saudi Arabia is the world’s number one player with a remarkable downstream sector and a functional national oil company, Aramco.
With the new development, Nigeria could address oil and gas infrastructure shortfall hovering around N18 trillion and stabilise economic development, particularly by plugging leakages and spurring industrial activities through an enhanced gas sector.
During a welcome dinner, Al Falih congratulated President Buhari on his re-election, reassuring him of better bilateral ties.
He noted that Nigeria’s role remained critical in the stabilisation of global oil price as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other allies meet soon to review the market outlook, especially production cuts.
In his remarks, Kachikwu implored the host nation to explore areas of cooperation and collaboration in the downstream – refineries and petrochemicals, gas and midstream infrastructure.
The ministers also discussed global oil market development ahead of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee of OPEC which holds early next month in Jeddah.
In a similar vein, the president has parleyed with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-thani, on petroleum, power, aviation, agriculture, railways, among others at the State House, Abuja.
Also on the front burner at yesterday’s meeting was the recharge of Lake Chad from the Congo Basin.
In a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari said the refilling would provide succour to the more than 30 million people adversely affected by the shrinkage of the lake over the years.
Besides, the Delta State government has waded into a face-off between an oil firm and the over 112 oil-bearing Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw and Itsekiri communities in the Oil Mining Lease 30 to avert an economic crisis that could result in shut-in of over 90,000 barrel per day oil production.
Already, the communities had issued a seven-day notice to the oil firm and its subsidiaries to vacate the area.
But the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor, met on Monday with the aggrieved communities, led by the President General of Ewvreni Community and Chairman of President Generals Forum of OML 30, Chief Victor Ohare in Asaba to douse the tension.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer in the ministry, Mr. Ivovi Aruoriwo, said: “Chief Ohare briefed the state government of their grievances with the oil exploration company, who they accused of breaching all the terms contained in the GMOU entered with it.”
It stated that the communities accused the company and its subsidiaries of using security agencies to intimidate, harass and suppress their genuine agitations.