Recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), and it’s Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mallam Mele Kyari, have come under series of attacks from different faceless groups and individuals.
The attacks, from sponsored opinion articles, news reports, paid adverts, and editorials among others, aimed at painting the National Oil Company and it’s top management executive led by Kyari in bad light, have been consistent, as well as vicious.
The sole purpose of these sponsored campaigns of calumny, against the NNPC and it’s top management team, is to reset President Bola Tinubu, (who is the Minister of Petroleum Resources), to disengage Mallam Kyari as Group Chief Executive Officer and replace him with someone who will do the biddings of the oil cabals.
These developments have clearly shown that, corrupt individuals and groups in the oil industry, who hitherto have enriched themselves to the detriment of the nation, are not comfortable with the positive reforms the GCEO has put in place to revamp the oil and gas industry since his assumption of office about four years ago.
Bearing in mind the Nigerian factor, these scenarios have fundamentally put Kyari on the spot. The fact that, Kyari’s appointment is a game-changer, with a clear mission – to revitalize the struggling corporation, is being interpreted by these saboteurs as a challenge to them and an affront to their unethical means of robbing the country and her over 200 million citizensNigerians of the right to their common wealth.
Despite the numerous challenges be-deviling the sector, Kyari has grown crude oil production to an enviable level of 1.7 million bpd of crude oil and condensate combined as at September 2023.
According to the fourth quarter of 2022 figures released, Nigeria has regained its position as the largest crude oil producer in Africa, ahead of Algeria’s 1.021 million barrels/day and Angola’s 1.088mb/d in November 2022.
With oil theft and pipeline vandalism overwhelming Nigeria’s oil business in recent weeks, the NNPC Ltd, under the leadership of Mallam Mele Kyari, adopted the Saudi Aramco’s model of using video surveillance to monitor its pipelines carrying crude oil from wells to flow stations in the Niger Delta region.
The NNPCL in collaboration with security agencies, has also put up a Control Centre, to provide surveillance of all the country’s oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta.
The surveillance system, known as the Central Coordination, Data Integration and Activation Control Room, just like the Saudi Aramco, uses video visibility to monitor the country’s Niger Delta pipeline networks, where more than 90 percent of the country’s crude is explored. Through the Data Control Centre, the NNPC, has the capability to see and monitor the movement of vessels in the coast of Nigeria’s territorial waters in real time.
From the facility, officials of the NNPCL, working with operatives of the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies, can determine, in real time, if a vessel is carrying out operations within Nigeria’s coastal waters legally.
Beyond arresting crude oil thieves and shutting down illegal refineries, the NNPCL under his leadership, has expanded the frontiers for crude oil production. One of the most impressive accomplishments of Kyari’s stewardship at NNPCL, was the flag-off of the Kolmani Integrated Development Project in Bauchi State in November 2022. This marked the first ever, commencement of effort to commercially exploit oil in the Northern part of Nigeria.
The OPL 809 and 810, which lies in the Gongola Basin of the Upper Benue Trough, straddling Bauchi and Gombe States, seen as one of the most massive projects as the Kolmani Oil Field, is estimated to have a reserve of about one billion barrels of crude oil.
The project will enable the country to transport two billion standard cubic feet of natural gas daily to power plants in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, and various gas-based industries, thus, boosting the nation’s socio-economic growth.
It is instructive to note that, the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, which transitioned the NNPC into NNPC Limited, being a CAMA company, has enabled the National Oil Conglomerate, to have a very strong governance structure that cannot be manipulated.
NNPC Limited currently, strictly operates under three principles of profitability, energy transition, and sustainability drive for its survival..
This template has been strictly exhibited and adhered to by Kyari, through deeply innovative commitment to the highest standards of transparency and global best practices in all its activities, including its contracting process. As at now, contracts are being awarded based on rigorous evaluation criteria and in line with industry norms.
To ensure compliance to Due Process, the NNPC has subjected the selection process to a competitive tender guided by Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) standards, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission expertise, and the active involvement of a Transaction Advisor.
The contract bidding process also has representations from NEITI and the Ministry of Justice in the project development team and the evaluation exercise.
These contracts are on the terms of Build, Operate and Transfer agreements. Selected partners are to finance the rehabilitation, as the contracts do not entail the transfer of control of these assets to any particular company.
The NNPC’s objective is to enhance the integrity and functionality of the pipelines to facilitate the efficient transportation of crude oil to refineries and the distribution of its products across the country.
The terms of these contracts of strategic national assets clearly stipulates that ownership remains with NNPC Limited and would be operated in the interest of over the 200 million Nigerians.
Arguably, the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), in August 2021 by former President Muhammadu Buhari, has opened up significant changes as it gave birth to the new, refreshed, and rejuvenated NNPCL. With the PIA in place, the company now operates like any private company in Nigeria.
In September 2022, NNPCL sealed the acquisition of OVH Energy, making it to add to its assets reception jetty of 240,000MT monthly capacity, 8 LPG Plants, 3 Lubes Blending Plants, 3 Aviation Depots, and 12 warehouses. Also, Oando’s 380 fueling stations were added to NNPC’s existing stations, making it the largest in Africa. Through the deal, NNPC leveraged Oando’s coverage across Africa to become a leading energy company.
The acquisition, under the leadership of the GCEO, Mele Kyari, shows his vision has transformed the company to a force to be reckoned with in the global energy market.
The acquisition of OVH Energy in 2022 by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has boosted the profitability of one of its subsidiaries, NNPC Retail to N18.4bn in the first three months of this year.
The acquisition of OVH, has boosted the profit margin of NNPC Retail which has jumped astronomically. For instance, in 2021 before the acquisition, NNPC Retail made N6.93bn profit. This has now jumped to N18.4bn in the first quarter of the year.
Not to mention that, the NNPCL under Kyari, in June this year, sealed another deal with four National Oil Companies on the $25bn Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project
These MoUs were successively signed between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), the Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM) of Morocco on one hand, and the Société Nationale des Opérations Pétrolières of Cote d’Ivoire (PETROCI), the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), the Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures of Benin (SNH-Benin), and the Société Nationale des Pétroles of the Republic of Guinea (SONAP) on the other hand.
The Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP) Project, executed in 2017, was initiated between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco during the of King Mohammed VI of Morocco to Nigeria in December 2016.
Once completed, the project will boost the monetization of the natural gas resources of the affected African countries, while also offer a new alternative export route to Europe.
This is an important milestone in the quest to tackle energy poverty that has been limiting the potential of the African continent for industrialisation.
As a commercial enterprise, the NNPCL, under the eagle’s eye of Mele Kyari, sees this project as an opportunity to monetize Nigeria’s abundant hydrocarbon resources. This he intends to achieve through expansion access to energy to support economic growth, industrialization, and job creation across the African continent and beyond.
Another monumental achievement of the GCEO, was securing a $7bn fresh investments from India for Nigeria’s petrochemical industry for Nigeria’s petrochemical industry during the G20 summit which was held from September 9 to 10 in New Delhi, the Indian capital, attended by Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu.
The visit was on attracting investments to Nigeria, with lucrative opportunities for investors, but most importantly, jobs for Nigerians and new revenue opportunities for the country.
Recall that India is one of the growing markets for Nigeria’s Liquified Natural Gas and through this deal, the government will be able to create job opportunities for Nigerians.
In the area of gas infrastructure, Kyari also led the NNPCL to achieve a $300 million reduction in the cost of the AKK Gas Pipeline contract, via contract renegotiation from the initial $2.8 billion.
In December 2019, Kyari achieved the close-out of the Final Investment Decision of the multi-billion-dollar NLNG Train 7 Project. This project has been the drawing board for over a decade, during the Covid-19 which took the its toll on the global economy.
He also successfully re-negotiated the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK), Gas Pipeline contract; an integral part of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline (TNGP), with a capacity to transport about 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day. The contract was renegotiated from the initial $2.8bin to $2.5bn, achieving cost savings of $300m in favour of the Nigerian government. Construction work on the project was flagged-off in June 2020.
He also led the signing of a $260m Financing Agreement for the Assa-North Ohaji South (ANOH) Gas Project with Seplat, to deliver 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and 1,200 megawatts of electricity to the domestic market.
Shortly after the removal of fuel subsidy and in line with the directive of President Tinubu, to provide alternative fuel option, the NNPCL led by Kyari entered into partnership with NIPCO Gas Limited, to develop Compressed Natural Gas stations across the country.
The move is part of the NNPCL’s commitment to reducing carbon footprint and providing cheaper alternative fuel to motorists. The current initiative is in addition to the phased deployment of 56 CNG stations planned by NNPC Retail across the country.
This landmark collaboration aims to expand the country’s CNG infrastructure, improve access to CNG, and accelerate the adoption of cheaper and cleaner alternative fuel for buses, cars and Keke NAPEP. This is to significantly reduce the cost of transportation and engender sustainable national economic growth.
The first phase, comprising 21 CNG stations, will support intra-city transportation and will be ready by the first quarter of 2024, while the second phase, comprising 35 CNG stations, is to support inter-city transformation and will be ready by the first quarter of 2025.
Under the NNPC-NIPCO strategic partnership, 35 state-of-the-art CNG stations will be constructed nationwide, including three Mother stations. Once fully operational, the stations can service over 200,000 vehicles daily, and significantly reducing carbon emissions and associated impact on climate.
Those criticizing Kyari for non- functionality of the refineries do not have their facts right. In the first place, since the era of Gen Sani Abacha Junta up to Former president Olusegun Obasanjo tenure, the refineries were lying fallow. It was former president Muhammadu Buhari, that secured a PPP contract with DAEWOO, a South Korea firm, for the rehabilitation of the refineries before he left office.
Mele Kyari is working round the clock on the nation’s refineries based on the contract terms, and the Port Harcourt refinery is about 98% completed.
We know those and those like them, who ran away terrified and wet their pants backstage when the going gets tough. We know the factors relating to these blackmail misadventures by some disgruntled disengaged NNPCL top management staff and those who lost out at the pipeline surveillance contract.
There are about 200 million Nigerians and it is impossible for all of us to secure the pipeline surveillance contract. We appeal to those who lost out in that venture, to seek for other opportunities that are so many in the country.
Those who might have lost out, should not allow their grievances to becloud their sense of reasoning to the extent, they become distractions to the GCEO while performing these critical responsibilities to the nation.
It is not in doubt that Mallam Mele Kyari’s giant strides, positive contributions and focused leadership, in the oil and gas sector these four years is too numerous to mention. This is why President Bola Ahmed Tinubu reposes so much confidence in him.
Those scheming to bring him down, through cheap blackmail will fail. They will not only fail, but will meet failure awaiting them at the gate of success. Instead of these rumblings, we solicit for all well – meaning Nigerians to rally round Mele Kyari, so that together, we can witness the re- birth of a new NNPCL that offers job opportunities to our teeming unemployed youth, boost our GDP and enhance the economic status of our beloved country.
former NNPC Workers representatives
Writes in from Kaduna