Security challenges in oil, gas sector may cripple economy —Kachikwu

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has warned that security challenges in the oil and gas sector may cripple the economy.

Speaking at the International HSE Biennial Conference on the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria, in Lagos, on Monday, Kachikwu, who was represented by Dr Timothy Okon, the Senior Special Assistant to the Minister on Physical and Regulatory Matters, said that sustained vandalism of production facilities has led to shut-ins and deferment which in turn had drastically declined oil production and export figure.

“There is also the inevitable cost of repairs and maintenance of sabotaged facilities, not to mention some irredeemable losses like injuries, fatalities and the trauma associated with kidnap cases.

“There is no exaggerating the pervading effects of the security situation in our fields. Mere recounting and lamenting the effects may not help much except to identify the immediate and remote cases with a view to addressing them with all the deserved vigour.

“While the ministry of petroleum resources will not claim to have an exhaustive list of causes, we do have a sizeable list and the top item is marginalization. Enlightenment should be enough to clear what is perceived, but real marginalization, wherever it exists, needs more profound strategies,” he said.

The minister said that some local communities in most field locations feel excluded from the scheme of things, especially when they heard that some communities were already enjoying the initiatives of a few companies.

He said the present administration was not deterred or resting on its oars in reaction to these challenges.

“While sustaining established remedial strategies, new ones are being considered on a continual basis and the scope of consultation is continuously being widened.

“The path of dialogue is perpetually opened to all relevant stakeholders and to the host communities in particular, in addition to the established avenue for receiving their routine complaints and petition against licensed operators,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Mordecai Ladan, Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) said that the recent hike in pipelines vandalism, crude oil theft and crude spillages in the Niger Delta regions had resulted in significant decrease in crude production and revenue to government.

Ladan said that the increase in hazards and risk posed a great challenge not only to the government but, also to both the workforce and the host communities.

He said that the seventeenth biennial conference on Health, Safety and Environment in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry was carefully selected to address challenges confronting the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

The director said that the it is imperative for stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to sustain and improve the commitment to the essential operative variable within the environment where these resources are mined for the overall interest of the industry and the country.

According to him, in the past decade, the industry witnessed increased activities. Thanks to the Federal; Government’s deliberate policy and action plan to increase daily crude production to four million barrels and national reserve to forty billion barrels by the year 2020.

“The theme of this conference is indeed a reflection of our commitment and readiness to harmonise valuable recommendations that will evolve from the discussion within these three days with the view to galvanizing them as essentials to government policies.

“It is expected that at the end of this conference, we will come up with communiqué, summarising opinion and suggestions presented, with a view to making informed recommendations to government,” he said.