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Nigeria crude oil output will rise to 2.2 million in 2017 — Kachikwu

  • Says corruption in NNPC overblown

THE Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Thursday, said that Nigeria’s crude oil output would rise to 2.2 million in the first few days of 2017, announcing that the Federal Government has addressed a number of funding issues which would see Nigeria’s crude oil output rise to three million barrels per day in the next few months.

Kachikwu, who therefore, exonerated the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from the corruption saga in which it had been tagged, disclosed that most of the allegations against the corporation were overblown and based on lack of understanding of the workings of the oil sector.

He made this disclosure at the launch of the Short and Medium Term Priorities to Grow Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry (2015 To 2019), tagged the ‘7BigWins,’ a new initiative of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, held at State House, Abuja.

The minister maintained that the roadmap reflected the vision and aspiration of his administration in the sector, pointing out that the programme was to raise government’s revenue from the oil sector through cutting down on project contracting cycle, ensuring 100 per cent local refining by 2019 and the commercialization of gas flaring.

Kachikwu assured that the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari would ensure that it find every oil that was available in every part of Nigeria, with increased private sector participation, while it intended to raise $5 billion and $20 billion in the short and long term respectively for the Federal Government.

He further gave reasons why the country was not keen on privatizing the refineries at the moment, saying the Presidency and the Federal Economic Council had agreed that the refineries should be restored to its optimum capacity and made to work efficiently, while other issues should be addressed to guide against selling the refineries as scraps.

“The feeling of the FEC and the President is that we should first get the refineries to be efficient before we talk about privatization, otherwise, we will be selling scraps. In their present state, nobody is going to offer you serious money.  A huge amount of investment is going into this.

“Secondly, there are union issues. We do not just take decisions, not recognizing that people work there. If you privatize in a hurry and you are sucked into union issues, that closes the place and it does not function for years. We got to take the realities on ground. The decision, therefore, was to find investors who are willing, almost on a loan structure basis to put money, put the technical skills, work with our people who are there.

“I think sometimes the corruption index in NNPC is overblown, because sometimes people do not understand the technicalities of what are going on and the short answer is corruption. But I do agree that there are all kinds of sleaze stories in the past, but if you look at the last one year and in the last 13 months, those have dramatically disappeared.

“The Treasury Single Account, TSA, definitely helped, being able to suck in all our funds in one pond; being able to look at long term focus. The fact that we can sit down here and say we want to get out of importation, I don’t think anybody was able to tell you that. The fact that we have saved over a billion dollars through the Direct sale-Direct Purchase, DSDP, programme, it is something. Otherwise, it would have gone into private pockets.

“There are good people in the NNPC. Sometimes, my fear is that in the process of trying to punish the bad people, we forget that there are tons and tons of good people who work in these institutions who need encouragement. I have found it in my heart to find those individuals, and today, they are working in the core centers of the place, they are driving the processes. They are some lapses, there are some gaps, like in any other place in the world, but what is important is what your focus is?” the minister explained.