By Udeme Akpan
MALLAM Mele Kyari mounted the saddle as the Group Managing Director, GMD, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, with a very rich oil and gas industry background spanning over 27 years at a time the corporation and industry were experiencing very difficult times.
These included limited exploration and production, due mainly to the archaic Petroleum Act of 1969, which discouraged investment. But there was hope as Kyari, a 1987 graduate of Geology and Earth Science from the University of Maiduguri, who had served as a Well Site Geologist with the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure, DFRRI, between 1987 and 1988 under the National Youth Service Corps is a professional with much experience.
Prior to that time, he had worked with the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency between 1988 and 1991 before joining the NNPC as a Seismic Data Processing Geophysicist in the Data Processing Department of the Integrated Data Services Ltd, DSL, in 1992. Thereafter, Kyari made his mark as a labour union leader when he was elected the Chairman, NNPC Group of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, from 1997 to 1999. He was later appointed as Exploration Geophysicist, Production Sharing Contract, PSC, at the National Petroleum Investments Management Services, NAPIMS, in 1998 from where he was made the Head of NAPIMS Operations in Abuja in 2004.
In 2006, he was appointed the Supervisor PSC, Crude Oil Marketing Department, COMD, of the NNPC, from where he rose to the position of Head, and later Manager of Production Contracts Management of the COMD between 2007 and 2014. Kyari was appointed General Manager, Oil Stock Management, COMD, where he worked till 2015 when he was appointed Group General Manager, COMD, and later Nigeria’s National Representative at the OPEC. However, Kyari had a very clear vision or future direction of the company when he was officially inaugurated as the 19th GMD on July 8, 2019. In his inaugural address, he promised to deliver on all Key Performance Indicators, KPIs, including upstream, gas, refineries, downstream as well as transparency and accountability in the NNPC and the entire oil and gas industry.
Upstream: In the past few years, Kyari has kept his promise to the NNPC and Nigeria. Apparently, determined to increase the nation’s oil reserves to 40 billion barrels, from 37 billion barrels, the GMD galvanised NNPC to rev up exploration in the inland basins with the drilling of the Kolmani River II Well culminating in commercial oil find in the Upper Benue Trough. The drilling of Kolmani River III Well is ongoing with a very high prospect of oil find. Seismic data collection is also ongoing in the Bida and Sokoto Basins while plans are underway to re-launch exploration in the Chad Basin.
Kyari repeated a similar feat when he led the corporation to sign a series of agreements with SNEPCo and other PSC partners to resolve the disputes around another deep offshore bloc, OML 118, leading to the renewal of that acreage with the prospect of a new $10 billion investment in the development of the Bonga South-East Field. This will further boost the nation’s oil production. Kyari-led management also secured a number of alternative funding facilities for the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC and some of Joint Ventures to facilitate the development of assets, including the N875.75 million NPDC OML 65 Alternative Funding and Technical Services package with CMES-OMS Petroleum Development Company, the $3.15 billion Alternative Financing Package with Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited, SEEPCO, and other partners for the development of NPDC’s OML 13.
Gas development: Under his watch, NNPC has focused heavily on the gas sector in keeping with the aspiration of the administration to diversify the economy. In this regard, NNPC drove and achieved the Final Investment Decision, FID, on the Nigeria LNG Train 7 in December 2019. The project, which was on the drawing board for over 10 years, is expected to generate over $20 billion in revenue to the Government over the project’s life cycle while creating 10,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs. In May 2020, the Engineering, Procurement and Construction, EPC, contract of the NLNG Train-7 project was signed with the SCD JV Consortium comprising affiliates of Saipem, Chiyoda and Daewoo to increase output to 30 million tonnes per annum, MTPA, from the current 22 MTPA. On June 15, 2021, the ground-breaking of the NLNG Train-7 Project was conducted signalling the commencement of construction work on the project.
Kyari also ensured the successful flag-off of the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK, gas pipeline project on June 30, 2020, which has been described by President Muhammadu Buhari as a game-changer. It is an integral part of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline, TNGP, with a capacity to transport about 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day.
The infrastructure designed to feed gas into the AKK- the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System II, ELPS II, and Oben-Obiafu-Obrikom, OB3, gas pipeline are also being aggressively executed and expanded to increase delivery capacity to over 3.5BCF/D, from 1.5BCF/D. The ELPS II has reached 96.34 per cent completion. Kyari led the corporation to achieve a $300 million reduction in the cost of the AKK Gas Pipeline contract via contract renegotiation from the initial $2.8 billion.
Downstream: As the sole importer of petroleum products in the country, Kyari has succeeded in keeping the nation well supplied. The corporation is in the process of strengthening the products distribution system by revamping the pipeline network through a Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT, model.
Transparency: In line with his promise, Kyari has introduced the programme, popularly known as Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence, TAPE, which involves the opening up of books of the corporation the way no other management had done before.
Indeed, these and other rare feats have combined to make Kyari our 2020 Man of the Year.