By Hector Igbikiowubo
HOUSTON, TEXASâ€” THE Federal Government, Tuesday, announced that it has inaugurated a committee to address the problem of lengthy contracting cycle in execution of projects in the oil and gas industry, even as it claimed that this was part of what the Nigerian Content Act was set to address.
Sweet Crude, Nigeriaâ€™s foremost energy publication excited participants at the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston, United States of America, USA.
While addressing journalists at the conference in Houston, Texas, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke acknowledged that the long contracting process in the oil and gas industry was a major obstacle in the implementation of projects.
She said the issue of reducing the contracting cycle in the industry was one of the mandates given to the newly-inaugurated Nigerian Content Monitoring Board and Council.
Scope of Nigerian Content Act
The minister said the newly-enacted Nigerian Content Act was holistic and covered a broad spectrum of all that was needed to ensure that Nigerian companies and indigenous services providers were given both the capabilities and the legislative backing to operate.
On how soon this yearâ€™s oil and gas licensing round would take place, she said the round which was expected to rake in $880million into the government treasury, according to the 2010 budget, will be held as soon as possible.
The minister said the second piece of legislation the country was going through at the moment was the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which she described as the most comprehensive piece of petroleum legislation in Africa.
She noted: â€œInherent within the Petroleum Industry Bill as well is the Gas Master Plan. When it is actually promulgated into law, I intend that this will be done within the next three months; it will blow up the phase of gas exploration and production in Nigeria in a way that has never been seen before.
Nigeria will become a gas exploration and production company and as you all know, Nigeria has more gas reserves than it has crude. So, by this time, we should begin to focus on what we call the midstream sector and ensure that we open up gas exploration and production in the country, not just at production end but also at the retail end.â€
While expressing satisfaction at the level of participation of Nigerian companies at the technology conference, the minister said: â€œI actually did not expect to see this level of developmental infrastructure, regarding oil and gas, particularly with Nigerian companies. This is particularly pleasing when you consider that we have just signed into law the Nigerian Content Act.â€
She assured also that government will also ensure that the next award of oil blocs to actual and potential investors was done transparently and within the tenet of due process.
Sweet Crude excites
Meanwhile, the debut of Sweet Crude at this yearâ€™s OTC continued to excite participants who hailed it as timely, informative and well packaged.
In a bid to expand the frontiers of energy reporting in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, the Vanguard decided to print and circulate 30,000 copies of Sweet Crude freeÂ to participants at this yearâ€™s event.
Editor in Chief of Vanguard Newspapers and President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, who spoke at the Reliant Park in Houston Texas on the reaction of participants to the publication, said he was pleased it had been well received.
Adefaye noted that Vanguardâ€™s decision to launch the publication was informed by the critical nature of the industry to the wider Nigerian economy, adding â€œwe have always believed that the oil and gas sector can and should act as a catalyst for growth and development.
Given the reception the paper has received at this conference, we would endeavour to do things a little differently to deepen our coverage of the sector.â€