Monday, April 19, 2010

Nigeria: Govt Participation in Oil and Gas Hinders PIB Oil Firm Boss

Udeme Clement

The managing director and chief executive officer, Beco Petroleum Products plc, Mr. Henry Mojekwu, has said that the overwhelming influence of the Federal Government in the petroleum sector is responsible for the delay of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), that has been in National Assembly since 2008.

He made this statement in an exclusive chat with Sunday Vanguard, in Lagos, stressing that the International Oil Companies (IOCs), are against the Bill due to government involvement in the business, which has the tendency to create monopoly in the long-run.

" It is quite clear that the IOCs are against PIB because of government influence in the sector. Their fear is monopoly. They believe that government has the power the make laws, in that capacity, it could make laws that would favours its interest in the business, thereby creating monopoly in the sector. Even some independent oil marketers are not in support of the Bill because they are also in the business to make profit", he stressed

According to him, "aside from the delay in PIB, government intervention in business is also the reason for persistent scarcity of petroleum products in the country. I am not an advocate of government being in business because they do not have any reason to be there.

What government should provide are, infrastructures, the regulatory framework and enabling environment for the sector to thrive. At present, the sector is not fully deregulated, Nigerian factor is seen in all facets of the business, the supply chain in still inefficient and there is also panic buying often caused by consumers each time government makes a public pronouncement on certain issues in the sector. Another issue is that of corruption, which also brings scarcity in the system. So, the sector must be properly restructured to address these issues".

On the issue of losses incurred by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), due to certain constraints in the sector, he said, "Any arm of NNPC that is incurring losses should wind up because they do not have to be active participant in the business. I believe they may be recording losses at their retail arm and not in sales of crude oil and refining."

On the outlook at the economy, he said, "The global financial melt down is almost over, the shake-up in the banking sector is also over. If the power sector is restructured and basic infrastructures provided, the economy may pick up. Government must be practical about growing the economy and not giving a target of Vision 2020.

Vision 1990 did not work, 2000 was not realistic, so we should all do our best to move the country forward and stop talking about vision".

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