COVID-19: Reform oil, gas industry now, Afrinvest tells FG

The federal government has been called upon to use the period of the coronavirus pandemic to reform Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. 
Making the call on African Independence Television (AIT) programme “MoneyLine with Nancy” via Skype on Tuesday in Abuja, Managing Director Afrinvest West Africa Ike Chioke, said change would attract investment into the sector. 

In the same programme on Monday, NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari said Nigeria would no longer pay subsidy on petrol. 
According to the NNPC GMD, with the ongoing decline in  global oil it was not feasible for the government to continue the subsidy regime.
Over the years, there have been fervent calls by industry players and analysts on the government to discontinue subsidising petrol price. 
“There is no subsidy and it is zero forever, going forward there will be no resort to either subsidy or under recovery of any nature.
“NNPC will play in the marketplace, it will just be another marketer in the space. But we will be there for the country to sustain security of supply at market price,” Kyari said. 

He said: “The key issue in crude oil business is market fundamentals of demand/supply. I believe COVID-19 will subside and countries will come back to life.
“I don’t see oil price going below the 20 dollars we saw last week. I’m certain, all things being equal, oil price will bounce back.” The NNPC’s helmsman assured Nigerians of ample supply and distribution of petroleum products.

For the Afrinvest boss, “It is appropriate for the government to use the period of the pandemic to review the laws under the oil and gas sector and make permanent changes there. 
“It’s just the GMD of NNPC making the call, it doesn’t change the legal framework they operate. The government should use this opportunity to make a wholesale reform of the oil and gas sector it could set a new framework for participants in the industry. And we may well get to a situation where people bring in money to invest in the sector at this particular time.”
Despite talks to reform the petroleum Industry through the PIB, the government continues to dither in that regard.
Chioke noted that as the situation stands at the moment it will be difficult for monies to come in as global manufacturing and sundry services have slowed down due to the having the pandemic is wrecking at the moment.
Globally, a total of 1,362,045 people have contracted the virus with 76,328 deaths and 293,655 have recovery.

The situation has been mild in Nigeria as 238 cases have been confirmed five deaths, while 35 people in the country have recovered. 
According to him, many oil producing countries are giving out the oil for free rather than shutting in their Wells..but what we are not seeing is the government’s willingness to go and make a comprehensive change in the laws and the bills governing the oil and gas industry. 
He insisted that it was an excellent time for the authorities to roll out a template that would spur sector driven investments.
“And so, we must set the template, new and existing investors can now use to reform their business and probably use more local ingenuity to start regenerating the Nigerian economy and set us up against the future because when this situation passes and 2 or 3 years later oil price comes back to a level of $40 or $50 per barrel what happens? We go back to square one.”

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