By Abdulwaheed Usamah
As part of bid towards reducing petroleum importation, stabilizing the nation’s economic and give room to job opportunities, both Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Akwa Ibom State have agreed to thread on same path aimed at creation of refinery in the state, just as they aligned to provide a friendly environment for prospectus investors who are ready to put the proposed plans into reality.
Both the corporation and state government said that the state was suitable for establishment of refinery, due to its geographical location, and that they were ready to support promising investors who were ready to grab the opportunities been made available.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said that the corporation has not relent in engaging investors to establish a refinery in Akwa Ibom and that it would continue persuasions since the state is well-positioned geographically to have a refinery.
Speaking during a two-day Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) Triennial Retreat, and Synergy workshop on Wednesday in Akwa Ibom, Baru disclosed that interested investors have been approaching NNPC with various proposals and that the corporation have been directing them to the state government for cleared discussions.
The GMD explained that his office had been advising investors that were ready to consider establishing refinery in Akwa Ibom, to start leveraging on the opportunity in the state, especially on the state’s deep coastline.
Baru, however, urged the state government to explore partnership opportunities provided by investors towards establishing the refinery in Akwa Ibom, just as he tasked industry players to brace up for change in the sector.
“The investors have been coming to us and I have seen one that is quite promising. It is in this light that I encouraged these investors to come and see the state government and discuss,” he said.
Addressing gathering on the need for development across all facet in the country, the NNPC’s boss stressed that the current state of the international energy market, urgent need to rehabilitate the nation’s refineries as well as the Petroleum Industry (Governance) Bill currently being considered by the National Assembly, were dire challenges, necessitating that the industry charts a new course
Baru emphasized that navigating the challenges successfully required strong, purposeful and focused leadership from stakeholders in an industry where changing regulatory and macroeconomic realities are imminent.
He commended the sector’s unions including PENGASSAN and Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) for their role in ensuring harmony in the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry, saying this has helped stabilize petroleum products supply across the country.
“I would like to appreciate the support given to us by the two unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG. You have over the years exhibited high level of maturity and partnership.
This is evident in your pragmatic approach to issues, your support during difficult times as well as strategic engagement with industry stakeholders which has not only guaranteed industrial peace and harmony, but has also ensured the stable supply of petroleum products across the country,” Baru stated.
The GMD assured that NNPC would continue to accord priority to staff welfare and ensure that its team were trained to face current realities of the industry.
On his part, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, stated that the state government had been working hard towards attracting private investors so as to have a refinery in the state.
Emmanuel, who was represented by special advisers, Pastor Umoh Bassey, urged oil companies in the country to deploy more resources to sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects in across host communities, just as he extolled strategic role of PENGASSAN in moving the nation’s economy forward.
The governor task the industry unions to partner with employers in area of capacity building for betterment of the industry.
In his welcome address, the National President, PENGASSAN, Comrade Francis Johnson, pledged that oil workers’ union commitment would remain for true partners of progress in the nation’s Oil & Gas Industry.