COVID-19: Expert urges new NCDMB governing council on proactive measures

An oil and gas expert, Precious Okolobo, has called on the new Governing Council of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to take proactive measures to overcome the impact of the novel coronavirus on the industry.

The council was recently inaugurated in Abuja by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.

Chief Sylva reminded the members that they were “coming on board at a very novel time in the history of mankind and downturn in the activities of the oil and gas industry.” And the Federal Government expects them to support efforts to create jobs through local content.

Okolobo, the erstwhile Media Relations Manager of Shell Companies in Nigeria, argued that the Governing Council can take inspiration from the initiatives of the NCDMB which have ensured that an increasing number of indigenous operators now produce more than 15 per cent of oil and 60 per cent of domestic gas in Nigeria.

“But with the impact of COVID-19, the Council and indeed, the NCDMB, face the urgent challenge of improving local content delivery in an economy which experts reckon is heading for recession.

“Already, the Nigerian government has cut revenue estimates from crude oil exports from N2.64 trillion to N254.2 billion, and reduced the crude oil benchmark in the 2020 budget from $57 to $30 per barrel. The Council must come to terms with this paradox: how do you continue to develop and embed Nigerian content in a sector that is struggling?

“The NCDMB partly responded to the downturn by cutting interest rates and extending loans tenors to beneficiaries of the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI-Fund,) being managed for the Board by the Bank of Industry (BoI),” he said.

As the Minister of State for Petroleum pointed out at the inauguration, “In the midst of so much uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic and instability in the world oil markets, we must look inwards to explore all the opportunities to further diversify and insulate our economy from external shocks.”

But perhaps, the greatest challenge of the Council is the NCDMB 10-year strategic roadmap which was launched in 2017 to drive more in-country value from the country’s hydrocarbon resources.

The cardinal aim of the roadmap is to achieve 70 per cent Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry by 2027.  If this target is met, Nigeria will be able to domesticate petroleum refining and manufacturing of industry requirements, get more value from gas and take Nigerian operators to higher heights in the upstream, midstream, and downstream sectors of the industry.

Okolobo opined that all of these would generate about 300,000 jobs and ensure annual capital retention of $14 billion with the spin-offs that these could trigger.

“The expansion of the scope of the NCI-Fund should be another area of interest for the Council. The BoI has so far disbursed a total of $158.46 million and N7.31 billion to 26 beneficiaries representing 91 per cent of the NCI-Fund, covering manufacturing, asset acquisition, contract finance and loan refinancing,” he said.



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