By Emmanuella Anokam
The Nigerian Government says it is committed to fostering a business-friendly environment in the oil and gas sector following the decision of Shell Plc to sell its Nigerian onshore oil assets to a consortium of local companies
Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), said this while speaking to a consortium of five Nigerian companies on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Shell Plc has agreed to sell its Nigerian onshore oil business to a consortium of local companies for about 2 billion dollars, a historic shift in a crucial yet controversial part of the energy giant’s global operations.
If approved by the government, the deal would fulfill Shell’s long-term goal of extracting itself from a challenging operating environment in the Niger Delta.
Lokpobiri, in a statement on Thursday by his Special Adviser, Media and Communication, Nneamaka Okafor, emphasised that the Nigerian government will not impede legitimate business transactions in the oil and gas sector.
“On the part of the government, once we get the necessary documents, we will not waste time to give the necessary considerations and consent,” he said.
Responding to concerns about International Oil companies (IOCs) diversifying their onshore assets, the minister highlighted the positive aspects of the diversification.
According to him, Nigeria loses nothing as such moves create opportunities for indigenous companies with the capacity to acquire and professionally manage these assets, leading to increased profitability and the maximisation of their potential.
Addressing potential negative impacts on the country, Lokpobiri reassured that the diversification would not adversely affect Nigeria and emphasised government’s engagement with IOCs regarding the decommissioning of non-productive assets and abandonment issues.
The minister said that concerns raised by IOCs, particularly with Nigerian banks, have been addressed, assuring a safe environment for the handling of funds related to decommissioning and abandonment.
“As a government, we will adhere to the law without jeopardising legitimate businesses,” he added.
Responding to questions on preventing IOCs from diversifying their upstream operations, the Minister clarified that companies have not left their upstream deepwater assets.
He said instead, they were diversifying their onshore assets, creating opportunities for local companies with developed capacity and financing to acquire and profitably manage these assets.
The minister reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing sector concerns, including insecurity and aging infrastructure, such as pipelines.
He highlighted ongoing engagements with companies to invest in pipeline technology and other critical infrastructures within the oil and gas value chain.
He however announced that the president has approved a licensing bid round, demonstrating the government’s dedication to initiating the process promptly. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sadiya Hamza