Despite low crude oil price, Nigerian oil industry remains attractive to foreign investors —DregWaters Boss

Damilola Owolabi is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dreg Waters Petroleum and Logistics Limited, Nigeria’s foremost indigenous firm dedicated to handling oil and gas logistics and marine operations. In this interview with
OLATUNDE DODONDAWA, she outlined the challenges and prospects in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

Seven years after the Nigerian Content Law was passed by Jonathan’s administration, what is your opinion on its impact on the indigenous operators like you in the oil and gas industry?

The general perception is that the National Content programme has been a significant success. I believe it. Our company’s entry into the oil and gas industry has been enabled in many ways by the fact that there’s lower barrier to entry into the E&P space.

Many Nigerians have argued that the law has helped in retention of some jobs in Nigeria as against capital flight we experienced prior to signing of the bill into law. Do you agree?

Oh yes I agree. The Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board says that participation of Nigerians in oil and gas contracts increased by 180 per cent from 15 Nigerian Content Compliance Certificates (NCCCs) worth $396,103,336.38 issued in 2015 to 42 Content Compliance Certificates (NCCCs) valued at $1,645,233,425.59.

Some stakeholders have also argued that the Nigerian Content Fund (NCF) is yet to be fully accessed by indigenous operators, have you been able to access the fund?

That’s true. The NCDMB itself acknowledges the challenges of accessing the local content fund. The fund has reached over $500million, according to the NCDMB. I am aware that the NCDMB is working with the Bank of Industry (BoI) as an outlet for the funds. It also is working on partnership with the newly formed National Development Bank. A company that wants to access the fund is expected to go through these financial institutions.

If no, what are the factors preventing you from accessing the fund?

No, I haven’t applied. I have not needed it. Our company has been able to self-fund without needing such external resources.

The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) has just been passed by the SENATE, what is your comment on the effect of its passage in the oil and gas industry?

The PIGB is an important piece of legislation. It is one of the four laws that the new government wants to use to replace the old PIB, which had been stuck in parliament for close to 10 years. The fact that it was able to get to the stage of passage at the Senate, which is the Upper chamber of our bicameral legislative assembly, is significant. The PIGB has some very important contents; thetransformation of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) into a more independent Petroleum Industry Regulatory Commission; the reduction of the monopolistic powers of the minister; the break-up of the NNPC into three different companies and the fact that the one that remains the state hydrocarbon company can be partly listed on the stock exchange. These are quite exciting aspects of law. I plead with the House of Representatives to bury their hatchet and join the Senate in this progressive move and start getting Petroleum laws passed. The Host Communities issue that they clamour for, is in the remaining three bills which include: Petroleum Industry (Upstream &Downstream Petroleum Administration Reforms) Bill; Petroleum Industry (Fiscal Framework & Reforms) Bill and Petroleum Industry (Revenue Management Reforms) Bill. By the time these other bills are passed, the issues that the House is clamouring for would have been taken care of.

You were at the recently concluded Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, how would you rate the performance of Nigerian delegates at the conference?

They acquitted themselves very well. The Nigerian pavilion was very popular with a lot of international companies which seem interested in knowing more about doing business in Nigeria currently. As against what is always said about the Nigeria pavilion being a jamboree during OTC that wasn’t my experience, for me it was a great opportunity to network with indigenous and international companies. I would say it was quite impressive and worth every time.

What are the major challenges, highs and lows you have encountered in the course of business in oil and gas industry?

Our major challenge basically has been the fall in oil price which affected our clients operations with E&P companies as there have been reduction in business but compare to the previous year things are picking up again.

What are the projects you have done and the ones you are currently undertaken?

Our clients have experienced the ease of doing business through our assistance with provision of equipment and proper documentations for major supplies to NLNG, MOBIL, SAIPEM, CHEVRON, NPDC, JULIUS BERGER, SHELL, AGIP etc. Currently we are working on a modular refinery project for a client.

Can you tell me about yourself, your company and your operations?

My name is Damilola Owolabi from Kogi State Nigeria. I am the Chief Executive Officer of Dreg Waters Petroleum and Logistics Limited. Nigeria’s foremost organisation dedicated to handling Oil and Gas Logistics and Marine operations. We handle all logistics such as hiring and leasing of marine equipment, marine brokerage, clearing and supply of petroleum products to platforms/rigs, manpower supply to oil and gas companies, processing of all licenses and permits needed to operate as an oil company in Nigeria.

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