Mr. Atamuno Atamunolowuari, the founder and Managing Director, Midas Energy Service Limited, has charged the incoming administration of General Mohammadu Buhari to move for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, as part of measure to address crisis within the oil and gas sector. The Midas Energy boss, who was a recipient of the Nigeria Rising Award, organized by Hallmark Newspaper on Sunday, May 3, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, spoke with OREDOLA ADEOLA. Excerpts
What in your position on the crisis within the energy sector?
The crisis is a fundamental one as there are no ways of getting out of them without the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill- PIB, a bill which has been hanging with the National assembly for many years. The delay over the passage is also responsible for the inability of the government to address crisis in the power sector. The deregulation of the sector is very important as investors needed a viable operational environment to operate. Issue with payment of subsidy to independent marketers has also lingered for so long because of the delay in the passage of the bill. These problems are entirely systemic because of the spate of corruption within the sector.
What should then be the expectation of the investors amidst the delay in the passage of the bill?
Most investors are apprehensive of the development in the sector. In recent times, there are no new investors coming into the country. This is because the oil and gas industry is an international industry that is influenced by the International Oil Company- IOCs and indigenous independent investors. If the PIB is passed by the incoming government early enough, most of the problems within the sector will be resolved and confidence will be restored to the sector.
It is apparent that most of these investors are apprehensive of the policies of the incoming government due to expected tax regime. They need to have a very clear view of the sector as no serious investor will be willing to put his money in an uncertain economy. The passage of the PIB bill will definitely resolve the gamut of problem in the sector. Unless that is done the problem will linger on.
What does it takes to get all of these things you highlighted done?
The turnaround in the oil and gas sector can be achieve optimally if the government of the day shows good will and seriousness to address the problem. It is possible for these to be done, but the political will must be there to address all of these issues.
Does General Buhari has the capacity to address this?
Yes he has the capacity, this is because he has an advantage, this is in the capacity of the Nigerian Content Act which is presently empowering the indigenous investors. He needs to strengthen the act, and use the act as a stepping stone to create large volume of employment. If unemployment crisis in the country is resolved he will go down in history as a government that has solved major crisis in the country
He need to also focus on improving the power supply. For instance Dubai with about 15Million people generates 35,000 Mega Watts, and Nigeria with a population of about 170 Million people with very high income ratio is struggling to produce between 4000 and 5000 MW, despite the huge amount spent on power generation by successive government. In the last 15 years of practicing democracy the Federal Government has spent about $60 billions with commensurate growth. This ordinary should have been generating about 60,000 MW because in the international contracting the Electricity processing company project to produce 1 MW is about a billion dollars. If Buhari can concentrate its efforts on power which is the biggest problem of Nigerians, he will be the best leader in the world.
What is responsible for the fuel scarcity witnessed across the country?
The challenge we have is the non-functionality of the local refineries. Corruption is so fundamental as it has eaten deep into the fabrics of the system called Nigeria. It is within the public space that most of the claims made by the independent oil marketer are fictitious. There is no genuine supply of the quantity of the products that are quoted as subsidy. Fuel scarcity and subsidy crisis will continue for as long as invoices are been returned. Most of these products paid for as subsidy are being returned in more than one to four times. Hence, it is believed that General Buhari, respected as a leader with discipline will not accept some of the illegitimate activities in the sector.
Do you agree with the CBN’s Governor’s advice to Gen. Buhari on the sales of the country’s asset in the oil and gas sector?
I do not agree with Godwin Emefiele’s position on the sales of the Joint venture with IOCs. The stake doesn’t really reflect on the economy due to the process it has taken over so many years. Nigerians have not feel the benefit of the existing stakes talk less of selling parts of what is left. The value of the assets has dropped such that most of the assets already with the IOCs are currently being resold to indigenous companies. It would be recalled that recently Shell Nigeria and Chevron sold about 18 and 53 onshore oil blocs respectively.
How can the asset have impact on the people?
It is obvious that the most of the oil producing communities in the Niger-Delta regions are not happy with the process being adopted by the government in the issuance of the oil and gas assets to the OICs. It is also very important for the Federal Government to collaborate with the communities by getting them involved in the ownership of the assets either as co-owners or part owners of the oil blocs. There is no way that the people living in these communities will be happy with the government if the blocs on their soil are issued entirely to individuals who are not part of the community. This is why pipeline vandalism has continued unabated. The unrest witnessed in the sector will continue until the true owners of the oil i.e community, are duly integrated in the stake of the oil blocs.