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As I join vanguard…

By Sunny Atumah

Sony Atumah
Sony Atumah

My good friend and colleague Onochie Anibeze, Editor of the Saturday Vanguard, last week, approached me that as a regular and incisive contributor, it would be nice for me to write a column on Oil and Gas. He said my contributions were rich and written in a simple language that communicated well. He wanted me to start immediately. I must confess that I’m  humbled by this gesture – to be in the leading position of this movement of a cherished newspaper: The Vanguard… towards a better life for the people.

The column ‘’Oil & Gas Summiteer” as conceived is participatory in nature: to reflect on the liquid fossil fuel of the globe and indeed the Nigerian economy. Expectedly, it would x-ray the upstream and downstream sectors; conventional and unconventional petroleum including shale oil and gas, and renewable energy.

Special analyses on pricing of petroleum and price intelligence, the vagaries of the market, finance and fiscal policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, petroleum economics, on and offshore investments, sustainable development as well as the politics and geopolitics of petroleum are to be in close watch and scrutiny.

Environmental pollution and degradation and threats to communities’ survival would also be treated at regular intervals. We also squint at the activities of national oil companies vis-a-vis the international oil companies in the global oil business

My experience in the roller coaster industry for about two decades now would be brought to bear in what would be served you. Numerous oil and gas conferences and exhibitions both locally and internationally (including OPEC) would be conveyed to you, the reader. A feedback mechanism would also be created to make our interface complete.

Sonny Atumah was a Special Assistant to a former Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the late Major General Mamman Kontagora, between 1998 and 1999. He is a regular Petroleum analyst on Television, Radio and also a regular contributor to Oil and Gas discourse in major Nigerian national newspapers. He is a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, and belongs to many petroleum associations including membership of the prestigious Middle East Petroleum Club.

In this debut, we discuss the 167th meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which held on 5th June, 2015 at its headquarters Vienna, Austria without Nigeria presiding. Nigeria’s Diezani Alison Madueke who was elected first female President at the 166th meeting on 27th November 2014 was not to preside over the conference because she ceased to be the Petroleum Minister on May 29, 2015 when the government changed.

The alternate President HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Ministerof Energy and Industry of Qatar extended a welcome to Dr. Jamila Shu’ara, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the Nigerian delegation to the conference.

As the petroleum conundrum continues, watchers had predicted a cut in production by OPEC even before the June meeting to shore up prices caused by oversupply and speculation towards the end of 2014 and early 2015.

The plummeting oil prices had left many OPEC members like Nigeria with acute budget deficits and attendant effects on their economies.

Surprisingly, it resolved to maintain the 30 million barrels per day and urged members to adhere to it until the 4th December 2015 meeting. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) supporters’ hail this decision as a good omen for the industry to have a stable and balanced oil market with prices that would be in the interest of producer and consumer nations alike to stem inflation. It may however not be in the interest of the United States shale oil drillers who are hardly breaking even to keep their rigs busy.

This fight among world oil producers it is predicted, may force equilibrium of about $75 mark by year end. It is not however clear what effect Iran’s plan to increase production by 1 million barrels per day, and also Indonesia’s comeback plan would have in the volatile global oil market. A further increase in supply may not augur well for many OPEC members especially the dysfunctional countries like Libya and Iraq, and the declining countries like Nigeria where IOCs are divesting from onshore productions. Indonesia left the oil cartel in 2008 when she became a net oil importer.

Ecuadorian delegation briefed on the ongoing arbitration in a matter brought against Ecuador by Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company. The Conference expressed its support to the Republic of Ecuador in the exercise of its sovereign rights over its natural resources, in accordance with international law, a right documented in the Algiers, Caracas and Riyadh Summit Declarations of OPEC Heads of State and Government. OPEC called for amicable negotiation and a good faith resolution for the dispute within a framework of utmost respect for the sovereignty of the Republic of Ecuador, and without resorting to ex parte pre- judgment measures that would make impartial solutions more difficult.


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