•DPR, PPPRA, PEF no longer exist —Sylva
•We’ll meet OPEC quota, Komolafe assures
By Obas Esiedesa, ABUJA
THE Federal Government, yesterday, challenged the Chief Executive Officers of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream & Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NPRA, on the growth of the oil and gas industry, following a drop in direct investment into the sector.
The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who gave the charge in Abuja while inaugurating Mr. Gbenga Komolafe as the CEO of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and Mr. Farouk Ahmed as CEO of NPRA, said the government expected exponential growth in the industry with the coming of the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
Sylva explained that with the inauguration of the heads of the new regulators, other regulators that existed before the PIA no longer exist.
He said: “This is historic because it marks the beginning of the successor agencies. The PIA provides for the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the establishment of the Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, the CEOs of these are agencies are now in place.
“Therefore the agencies have taken off because they now have clear leadership and today’s event marks that beginning for the new agencies”.
The minister tasked the CEOs on the need for smooth take off of the agencies, adding that “from the effective date of the PIA, those agencies are in place but unfortunately there were no leadership so they could not take off but now there is nothing to wait for.”
Sylva also stated that he was expecting a lot of growth and development of the industry, saying the industry had been stagnated for a long time because the process of passing the PIA had been very arduous, having taken over 20 years.
”A lot of companies and investors took and a sit-down and watch approach, but the PIA has now clarified the framework around the sector, I don’t see anything stopping investors from coming in,” he said.
The minister described the CEOs as “industry and competent people” that should hit the ground running, adding that Nigerians should “brace up for exponential growth in the oil and gas”.
Speaking on the fate of the Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, the minister noted that the agencies had ceased to exist, with the coming of the PIA.
Specifically, he stressed that while the law provided for the transfer of career staff in the old institutions into the new ones, political appointees were not covered.
“It is a matter of law, the law states that all the assets and staff of DPR are going to be vested in the Commission and also in the Authority, that means the DPR will not have anything, it doesn’t exist anymore, technically.
“It also repeals the Petroleum Inspectorate Act, the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Act and the PPPRA Act.
“It is very clear that those agencies do not exist anymore. The law also provides for the staff, the jobs in those agencies are protected but that doesn’t cover unfortunately the CEOs who were on political appointments”.
He disclosed that staff rationalization was currently ongoing, explaining that NPRA staff would come from the defunct PEF, PPPRA and from DPR, while the Commission staff will come from DPR.
Speaking to journalists after the inauguration, Mr. Komolafe said the Commission would seek to not just be a regulator for the upstream but also a business enabler for the sector.
He said the agency would work to ensure that Nigeria meets its OPEC oil production quota and benefits maximally from the current rise in price of oil.
On his part, Mr. Ahmed disclosed that the NPRA would urgently work with stakeholders to tackle the challenge of rising price of cooking gas.
Ahmed attributed the hike in price to poor investment into the gas sector over the years, saying with the abundance of gas, Nigeria should not struggle with gas supply.