By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor
THE former Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, is a deep, well-respected energy technocrat and reformer, with many landmark contributions to Nigeria’s and the global oil and gas industry.
This was expected as Dr. Gaius-Obaseki, who mounted the saddle as GMD in 1999, was very richly endowed with adequate knowledge of the company, having served in different positions before his most deserving appointment. As a result, he was quick to produce a roadmap prior to restructuring, postings, and capacity building of key personnel to drive his transformation agenda.
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Unlike, some other industry leaders, Dr. Gaius-Obaseki was able to hit the ground running with his reformist agenda, the re-engineering of the group, and his commitment to ensuring that NNPC staff understood the need and direction of the changes. Expectedly, these recorded outstanding accomplishments ranged from onshore to offshore, deep offshore to gas development, and from pipeline and depot construction to refinery rehabilitation, LNG development, and global petroleum diplomacy, among others.
Specifically, as GMD, Dr. Gaius-Obaseki, who took over from Alhaji Dalhatu Bayero, demonstrated a strong commitment to the making of policies and incentives, including the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which metamorphosed into the current Petroleum Industry Act, PIA. The comprehensive legislation, which replaced the Petroleum Act of 1969, has started to attract foreign and local investors to major oil blocks and marginal fields, thus impacting the nation’s oil and gas reserves and production capacity.
Dr. Gaius-Obaseki, who convinced the government to approve as much as $2.25 billion for cash calls to fund its equity in joint venture operations with multinational oil companies in the year 2000, invested massively in oil exploration in not only the Niger Delta, but also other basins, a development that enabled Nigeria to meet its Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, quota.
It is also on record that, Dr. Gauis-Obaseki obtained the approval of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to change the NNPC’s external oil marketing strategy. He cancelled the annual sales contracts for crude and fuel oil, eliminated the middlemen, and limited term contracts to bona fide end-users and large-volume traders.
Dr. Gaius-Obaseki further took bold steps to stimulate the development of the midstream sector, involving the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Warri, Delta State, and Kaduna, Kaduna State, to reduce importation of refined petroleum products and conserve scarce foreign exchange.
He enhanced the development and rehabilitation of downstream infrastructure, including pipelines and depots, targeted at delivering products to the filling stations. Dr. Gaius-Obaseki, currently the Chairman of Brass LNG Limited, worked tirelessly to stimulate the development of not only LNG, but also other forms of gas in order to assist in achieving a cleaner environment. Dr. Gaius-Obaseki, who made immense contributions toward the growth of local content through the encouragement of indigenous companies to venture into business, arguably recorded more feats than could ever be imagined.
He led NNPC from the front, raised its profile, and left an indelible mark, with NNPC becoming the largest state-owned organisation in Africa while upholding vital values, including integrity, decency, humility, and ethical standards.
These and other feats were fuelled by many years of professional expertise and experience in the company and industry, apparently because of his plethora of leadership roles. Dr. Gaius-Obaseki was appointed geologist in the Nigerian National Oil Corporation, now NNPC Limited, in 1972; first manager of the National Reserve Evaluation Project at NNPC in 1988; executive director of operations at Integrated Data Services Limited, IDSL, in 1991; managing director of Nigerian Gas Company in 1994; and group general manager of the crude oil marketing division at NNPC in 1998.
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