By Clara Nwachukwu & Sebastine Obasi, Houston, Texas (USA)
Indigenous oil and gas companies, under the aegis of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, have expressed frustrations over their inability to access over $500 million that had accrued in the Nigerian Content Fund, saying this had put them in a disadvantage position in the execution of projects in the industry.
Speaking at the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, taking place in Houston, Texas, Chairman of PETAN, Mr. Bank-Anthony Okoroafor, said making the fund accessible to indigenous companies would create big companies that will compete with others in the world.
He said: “Today, the local content fund is more than $500 million. If every year you bring out about $50 million, in the next five years, we will create Daewoo, Samsung, Saipem. This is how big companies are built.
“If you borrow at a minimal rate, you can grow; but if you borrow at about 30 percent, you are struggling and cannot compete with the others in the industry.”
Okoroafor, who decried the high interest rate in Nigerian banks, which has prohibited PETAN members from expanding their scope, urged government to make the content fund available, so as to enhance capacity building.
According to him, “borrowing in-country is too expensive. The Nigerian Content Fund should be used to build capacity. That is how companies in a country like Korea were built. The fund is an accumulation of our invoices.”
While noting that every PETAN member would not benefit from the fund at the same time, he suggested that selection of beneficiaries should be done through random means.