THE expected gains from the implementation of the Nigerian Gas Master-plan and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be a mirage without the upgrading of the technical and regulatory know-how of the Nigerians and other nationals who will manage the emerging systems and organizations that will be created as a result of the reforms.
Dr. Timothy Okon, Lead Strategist at the NNPC, made this assertion during a presentation at the recently concluded 10th Anniversary Gas Symposium of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA), at Abuja.
According to Okon, the Gas Master-plan and The Petroleum Industry Bill will result in the greater involvement of Nigerians in the regulating, operating and management of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Thus, the need to ensure that these persons are properly trained and that they gain the requisite experience and technical know-how necessary to play their roles in the industry is vital.
Said Okon, â€œIt is important to note that an immense exercise involving the training, attraction and retention of experts in various areas will have to be undertaken in short to medium term to ensure that Nigeria gets the required manpower that will enable the optimal management of the industry.â€
It will be recalled that the Gas Master-plan and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) both propose the creation of new regulatory and policy management agencies that will manage the various segments and aspects of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry. These include the Strategic Aggregator, The Upstream, Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Bodies, as well as new inspectorates within the Ministry of Petroleum.
On the technical end, Okon remarked that the talent required for the tasks of managing and regulating the industry were also very rare and difficult to get, even among the International Oil Companies (IOCs). Thus, Nigeriaâ€™s ability to employ and retain qualified persons in these critical technical positions will be a key factor in determining the success achievable from the reforms in the Oil and Gas Industry.
Okon also pointed out the need for the realignment of the attitudes and mindsets of the various segments of employees in the industry, as the reforms planned for the industry begin to take shape. â€œThe need to ensure that a culture that rewards and develops competence gains ground within the NNPC and other bodies is also necessary for the development of the industry, as the reforms move to the implantation stageâ€, he stated.
In a related matter, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Osita Izunaso, had at the same Nigerian Gas Association Anniversary Symposium, stated that the Petroleum Industry Bill will be passed into law before the end of 2009, to enable the commencement of its implementation from the beginning of 2010. According to him, all efforts were being made to ensure the Bill was passed before the National Assembly goes into recess for the year-end holidays.