Mr Victor Ekpenyong, an indigenous player in the oil and gas sector, has applauded the Federal Government for its recent rebound in oil production and return as largest oil producer in Africa.
Our correspondent reports that oil production data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) indicate that Nigeria produced an average of about 1.35 million and 1.23 million barrels of crude oil daily in December and November 2022 respectively.
The OPEC report said that Nigeria has also seen improved oil output for November 2022, a development that saw Angola and Algeria trail in second and third positions respectively.
Ekpenyong, in an interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, described the rebound as a great development for the Nigerian oil industry.
He recalled that prior to the improvement recorded in November and December, a lot of oil workers lost their jobs in 2022, while some companies shut down due to unsustainable oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
“It was a great relief to know that Nigeria ramped up production in the last quarter of last year as it produced 1.35 million barrels per day (bpd).
“I would like to commend the Minister of Petroleum and President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, and Minister of State for Petroleum for the efforts put in to ensure that we optimise production in the last quarter of 2022.
“I equally crave their indulgence to continue relating with the local communities who dwell around pipeline installations and other oil and gas assets.
“We can really do more because we do have the capacity to produce over 2.53 million bpd. Let’s see how we can optimise this a little further to get the resources we need for running this country,” Ekpenyong said.
He noted that the OPEC report for December revealed that Angola’s and Algeria’s production levels stood at 1.08 million and 1.01 million bpd respectively.
According to Ekpenyong, the African continent has a long way to go as bulk of its production was for export.
He explained that Africa has not performed optimally as it ought to as the continent is known for centuries to be a place for sourcing raw materials, and the need to start changing the narrative.
He said that it was regrettable that almost 90 per cent of oil productions in Africa is exported.
He equally observed that Ghana, with a population of 34 million citizens, imports petroleum products and does not have functional refineries.
He, however, expressed satisfaction with Algeria, with a population of 44 million people, refines 50 per cent of their production within their country.
Ekpenyong observed that as someone who is well travelled, it is a flaw in Africa’s system to export 100 per cent of their production and then import petroleum products, adding there was the need for the African continent to do better.
On the level of oil theft and vandalism, Ekpenyong, an Oil Well Control specialist and Chief Executive of Kenyon International West Africa Company Limited, an oil services firm with expertise in oil well security, described the scenario as terrible.
“It is terrible. Why I say it is terrible is because my company, Kenyon International West Africa Company Limited, happened to be a company facing this issue in the Niger Delta.
“A year ago, we had a serious oil spill in Nembe, and Kenyon helped restore the environment to normal.
“So many oil companies are battling to stop this menace going on in the Niger Delta with many adverse effects such as the water being polluted, and the environment polluted as well,” Ekpenyong said.
Ekpenyong said that he had advised that Nigeria should engage the locals in host communities because they are the people closer to the oil assets who know the situation of things around there, and can ascertain when there is an intruder.
“Thankfully, they have engaged some locals in a few host communities, and we now can see the favourable results of that decision to relate with locals in host communities,” Ekpenyong said
On steps to sustain the country’s leadership in oil output, Ekpenyong said the federal government’s initiative has worked is and yielded results.
He advised that the country should do more, and keep on engaging host communities so they can work together to boost production as Nigeria has the capacity to produce more to earn more resources to effectively run the country.