*…Facts are sacred and comments, free- A rejoinder by The Oil and Gas Progress Group (OGPG)*
In its page 3 comment on 15th May, 2022, entitled, “NNPC Must Come Clean With Nigerians,” the Sunday Trust came hard on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), accusing it of a litany of woes. To the Newspapers, NNPC is the sole reason Nigeria has not been able to make the most of her rich oil and gas endowment, despite the huge sums of investment made for exploration and production in the past few decades.
Although, most of the allegations are no more than mere bear parlour narratives; the Oil and Gas Progress Group (OGPG), deems it fit to set the records straight as facts, so long as dusk gives way to dawn, would continue to remain sacred while comments are free. In the said editorial, the paper noted that “Since early February when the federal government balked at the prospects of exiting the subsidy regime in an election year, fuel scarcity and long queues have returned, causing Nigerians much economic upheaval in terms of skyrocketing prices of goods and services, and an upward climb of official inflation figures; it has also eroded one of the government’s own important legacies. Until the return of this acute scarcity of virtually all petroleum products, from petrol and diesel to jet fuel, the Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme of the government had kept the domestic supply of these products largely stable since it commenced in May 2017.
‘’So, why have the queues returned?” the paper asked to which it provided a spurious response saying that “The Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) has provided Nigerians with string of excuses to explain away the scarcity, none of them satisfactory, from adulterated supply to the Russia-Ukraine war. And last week, the NNPC said the ongoing scarcity was caused by the Eid-el-Fitr holidays which disrupted fuel distribution chain, as if there were no similar holidays last year or the years before.”
Now that the queues have disappeared, what would the paper report next against NNPC?
Nigerians are eagerly waiting the paper’s next editorial.
Not done, the self-acclaimed national daily went on to add that “the return of fuel scarcity is no more than a testimony to the continuing complete failure of Nigeria’s national oil company as a business, which it now claims to be, or as a public entity, which it was for so long. It would be difficult to find any Nigerian organization that has failed Nigeria more than the NNPC. In fact, the NNPC is a failure even to itself. Even at the current drastically reduced production levels of about 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd), Nigeria is still the largest oil-producing country in Africa, and the 15th in the world. But the NNPC Ltd is not listed among the world’s largest national oil companies (NOCs) in total assets, whereas, Senegal, the Angolan national oil company places ninth with total assets worth over $51 billion, according to ranking by Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI).
Addressing newsmen in Abuja recently, founder of OGPG, Engr. Haruna Shehu noted that “What Daily Trust does not know or fail to appreciate is the fact that under the leadership of Mallam Mele Kyari, NNPC has transformed into a business entity, going the whole distance to make its services better to Nigerians as well as making profits. Yes, NNPC, is no more a poorly run oil company but an entity desirous of making profits for the Nigerian government while cutting wastes and leakages.”
A testimony to this was confirmed by no other person than President Muhammadu Buhari when on December 31, 2020 declared NNPC a profit-making profit, the first time it recorded such feat is in its 44th year in existence. The Commander-in-Chief noted that the corporation’s losses were reduced from N803 billion in year 2018 to N1.7 billion in year 2019 and the eventual declaration of net profit in 2020.
Hear him, “I am pleased to announce the declaration of Profit after Tax of Two Hundred and Eighty Seven Billion Naira (N287 Billion) in Year 2020 by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. This is sequel to the completion of the statutory Annual Audit exercise for Year 2020.
“This development is consistent with this administration’s commitment to ensuring prudent management of resources and maximization of value for the Nigerian people from their natural resources. I have further directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to timely publish the Audited Financial statements in line with the requirements of the law and as follow up to our commitment to ensuring transparency and accountability by public institutions,” Is Daily Trust accusing Mr. President of lying given his position as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources?
Again, in its quest to paint the NNPC as an organization incapable of fixing the nation’s refineries, Daily Trust wondered why the four refineries in the country are yet to produce refined petroleum products for the use of Nigerians. While NNPC consider this a good question, it is apt to remind the paper that Turnaround Maintenance (TAM) works on the refineries have always come short, a development, Kyari alluded to when he advanced reasons for the poor delivery capacity of the refineries.
Perhaps, Daily Trust is ignorant of the mega Ajaokuta–Kaduna–Kano (AKK) pipeline, a 614km-long pipeline being developed by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to transport natural gas from southern Nigeria to central part of the country.
The £2.2bn ($2.8bn) pipeline project represents phase one of the 1,300km-long Trans-Nigerian Gas Pipeline (TNGP) project, which is being developed as part of Nigeria’s Gas Master Plan to utilise the country’s surplus gas resources for power generation as well as for consumption by domestic customers.
The TNGP project also forms part of the proposed 4,401km-long Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) to export natural gas to customers in Europe. Nigeria holds Africa’s biggest and one of the world’s biggest gas reserves. It’s proved natural gas reserves stand at 188 trillion cubic feet (tcf) comprising 99tcf of associated gas and 89tcf of non-associated gas.
The AKK pipeline is planned to be developed on a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis under public-private partnership (PPP), supervised by Nigeria’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). Is Daily Trust not aware of all these laudable initiatives?
Addressing the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee, recently, Kyari listed poor execution of TAM as the singular most potent reasons for the slow pace of petroleum refining in the country.
He told the committee, “We recognize that today none of our refineries is operating for the very obvious reason that through the work of this committee, you will find out why they are not operating. We will hide nothing from you. We will also tell you where we are as we speak today.
“Needless to say that the refineries were essentially not properly managed over time, not just today but in the last 20 to 25 years. The turnaround maintenance processes were clearly mismanaged over time. I have said this over and over. We have degradation of monumental proportions that we met and of course, the only way you can do this is to conduct full turnaround maintenance.”
Shehu counsels Daily Trust to focus on its core mandate of informing, educating and entertaining the public noting that “As a group committed to the wellbeing of the nation’s oil and gas sector, OGPG must remind Daily Trust that unlike the era of Deziani Allison Madueke when the media houses played host to slush funds, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is totally committed to the creed of transparency and accountability and as such, has no such patronage to dispense. However, Daily Trust like other major Newspapers in the country will continue to get the monthly audited NNPC financial report for publication on its current rate.
Kyari further informed the committee that various factors including vandalism and sabotage of facilities and pipelines have also contributed to the drawbacks being experienced for decades regarding the breakdown of the refineries and failure turnaround maintenance to make an impact.
He told the committee that efforts were on the pipeline to concurrently proceed with the work so that as Port Harcourt Refinery comes up, Kaduna and Warri will also come up until the total rehabilitation of the refineries is complete. Again, Daily Trust seems not to know.
The group further noted that the NNPC will continue to discharge its role, aware that well-meaning Nigerians are not unaware of the availability and readiness of some media platforms to the bidding of some unpatriotic elements bent on seeing government business conducted in their usual fraudulent manner. To those media houses and their collaborators, NNPC has no brown envelopes to give.