President Muhammadu Buhari has assured indigenous companies operating in Nigeria’s oil sector of his administration’s full support and protection.

Buhari made the pledge during a meeting with members of the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to President on Media and Publicity,  Garba Shehu, President promised to do everything within his powers to address the challenges faced by the indigenous players in the petroleum sector, while applauding their determination to increase the participation of Nigerians in the industry. “We have the manpower for a more effective participation in our oil industry. We will give you all possible encouragement.  You certainly won’t be ignored under my leadership,” President Buhari told members of the association which represents about 20 Nigerian companies operating mainly on onshore fields.

President Buhari assured the Nigerian oil producers that the administration will take appropriate actions to maintain and enhance security in their areas of operation, noting that better security will help to lower production costs, which, he said, had become unnecessarily high in the country.

President Buhari also directed the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to work closely with the indigenous oil producers to resolve the problems which they enumerated to him.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the group, Mr. Austin Avuru, has disclosed the challenges currently being faced by the group such as security and funding of joint ventures with the NNPC. He said the indigenous oil producers were already making significant contributions to the development of the economy and could do more with the support of the administration.

Avuru, who is the chief executive officer of Seplat Petroleum, told news men after the meeting that with necessary backing, the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG) could raise Nigeria’s domestic oil refining capacity to 1.2 million barrels daily by the year 2020.

According to him, the group is made up of indigenous companies responsible for over 200,000 barrels of oil production and over 900 million cubic feet of gas production per day, a very significant segment of the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. “One of the points we raised with the President is that we think that by 2020 domestic refining capacity should not be less than one million barrel of oil per day in domestic refining. We actually put 1.2 million barrels domestic refining capacity per day and that falls on our doorstep as indigenous operators”, he explained.

He revealed that projects for construction modular refineries by indigenous companies are already ongoing in addition to those in partnership with the NNPC. “We are confident that by 2020 we will deliver 1.2 million domestic refining capacity. We thought it was necessary to engage the President, then fortunately the Vice President, permanent secretary, GMD of NNPC were all there. So it was a very useful discussion,” he added.

By Olisemeka Obeche


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