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Divestment: FG expresses optimism over ExxonMobil, Eni oil deals, wooing investors


Akwa Ibom youths protest, shut ExxonMobil over alleged marginalizationPresident Bola Tinubu,Wednesday, expressed optimism over the successful conclusion of the ExxonMobil and Eni asset sales to Seplat Energies and Oando Plc, respectively, in Nigeria.

Both ExxonMobil and Eni had already expressed interest in selling their onshore and gas assets to Seplat and Oando Plc, respectively, and are currently awaiting government approval.

However, in an interview with Vanguard at the ongoing African Oil Week, AOW, in Cape Town, South Africa, the Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Energy, Mrs. Olu Verheijen, said: “The government is not opposed to the selling of oil assets. What we are saying is that due process must be followed. The oil companies, the regulator, and the Ministry know what to do, and they are working to resolve issues.”

Earlier, in her presentation, the Special Adviser, who represented President Tinubu at the event, said the government has already made conscious efforts, including the stabilisation of the fiscal and regulatory environment, the market-driven exchange rate, and streamlining of approval processes to attract investors to Nigeria.

We are open for business, said President Tinubu

She said, “First, we recognise that when considering where to deploy capital, investors consider the stability and predictability of the prevailing fiscal and regulatory environment. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu continues to send out the clear message that we are open for business.

“He took decisive steps to stabilise our fiscal environment by removing a costly fuel subsidy and shifting towards a market-driven exchange rate. In addition, we are making a concerted effort to streamline approval processes and clarify the scope of regulators to reduce the extensive project timelines and high cost premiums associated with operating in Nigeria.

“Second, we are taking decisive action to address security. We have taken decisive steps to curtail asset vandalism and illegal activities. These efforts have translated into a notable increase in our daily oil and condensate production, which currently stands at 1.6 mbpd – a remarkable 12.4% rise from the production volumes in 2022.

“The establishment of the 3% Petroleum Host Community Fund is a significant stride toward fostering development in these host communities, enhancing the security of our operations, and reducing the cost of doing business. Third, we have an unalloyed commitment to charting an economic development path that lifts millions of Nigerians out of poverty while avoiding the high-carbon choices that were the hallmarks of the past.

“To achieve our net zero goals in the electricity sector, we have identified several strategic interventions that will improve financial liquidity, the performance of distribution companies, energy efficiency, and the integration of renewable sources into our energy supply mix.

“The recent Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) auction by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) demonstrates our commitment to curb our emissions.”

He also said, “However, we will have no intention to curb our ambitions. We remain a vocal and leading advocate for a prosperous Africa fueled by all of its affordable low-carbon energy sources, and natural gas clearly fits the bill. We will grow LNG exports and petrochemical exports and displace diesel and PMS in various domestic end uses, as underscored by the recently announced Presidential CNG initiative.

“We will achieve this by enabling a range of policies and incentives. We will continue transitioning to market prices for gas and electricity and evolve the fiscal regime to be one that catalyzes investments rather than maximizes government takes. The Federal Government is also deploying catalytic capital from the midstream and downstream gas infrastructure fund of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority.

“In summary, our evolving oil and gas policy is shaped by factors that include our economic development needs, dependence on oil and gas revenues, resource size, and the protection of the environment. The reforms that we embark on will reflect the way that these policy objectives are balanced.

“President Bola Ahmed has bold plans to reform key elements of the industry that will position Nigeria to compete favorably for investment. We also recognize that action by the government alone is insufficient. We need the market and industry to reward us with firm and timely investment commitments.

“Our commitment to bridging the gap between Nigeria’s current and its potential is steadfast. The renewed focus on energy security has changed the pace of the energy transition. We intend to fully exploit this window of opportunity to the benefit of generations of Nigerians and Africans to come.”

We are very optimistic

Similarly, referring to parties, especially ExxonMobil and Eni, the Commission Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, Engr. Gbenga Komolale, said: “We are very optimistic that parties to the transaction will go back, look at the position of the regulator, and come back by abiding by the provisions of Nigerian laws, and the right thing will be done.”

Energy transition is a way of life.

Also speaking at the event, the President and CEO of Oando Clean Energy Limited, OCEL, Dr. Ainojie Irune, harped on the need to boost clean energy investment in Nigeria and other African nations.

He said, “Africa is a renewable energy powerhouse. We have the resources, the capacity, and the population. We can no longer excuse ourselves from getting involved in the energy transition.”

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