By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Chibuzo Ukaibe, Festus Okoromadu, Abuja and Chika Izuora, Lagos
In spite of the recent attack in which scores of people were killed in a Boko Haram ambush on an oil exploration team, the vice-chancellor of the University of Maiduguri (UniMaid), Prof. Ibrahim Njodi, has declared that the school will not chicken out of the project.
The gory attack by the insurgents last week Tuesday in Magumeri area of Borno State on a convoy of specialists from UniMaid and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) who were searching for commercial hydrocarbon deposits in the Chad Basin was said to be the deadliest in recent times.
But Prof. Njodi said though the entire university community was distraught by the cruel incident of July 25, 2017, the university cannot “chicken out” of doing what it is supposed to do whenever the NNPC eventually reorganises and return to exploration work in the area.
The VC stated this while receiving a high powered delegation from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and the NNPC led by its Chief Operating Officer in charge of gas and power unit, Engr. Saidu Mohammed, who paid him a visit in Maiduguri.
He assured of the institution’s commitment to going the whole hug in the search for commercial oil in the region with the NNPC.
Tracing the university’s partnership with the corporation to over 12 years back when the NNPC kicked off exploration activities in the Chad Basin, the UniMaid VC described as an act of God the cruel attack on the Frontier Exploration Services/Surface Geochemistry Sampling team comprising the NNPC, Consultants from University of Maiduguri, Consultants attached to the Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), a subsidiary of the NNPC and Civilian escort team.
He noted that the situation, as painful as it might appear, must be seen as a necessary sacrifice for the development of the country.
Prof. NjodI, however, called on the NNPC to stand firm beside the University and the families of the bereaved by providing the much needed support to overcome the massive setback caused by the insurgents’ attack.
Responding, Engr. Mohammed said as a responsible corporate entity, the NNPC will do everything within its means to support the University and the families of victims of the attack.
“We have been great partners with the University of Maiduguri for many years and certainly when losses like this happen and under this circumstance, we cannot abandon our partners to their fate”, Mohammed said.
He promised to return to the university after conferring with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the Group Managing Director of NNPC.
Earlier, the delegation paid a similar visit to the governor of Borno State at Government House Maiduguri where the deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Usman Durkwa, charged the NNPC not to allow the attack dampen its morale in the quest for new oil fields in the region.
Before leaving Maiduguri, the delegation paid a visit to the theatre command headquarters of operation Lafia Dole where a formal condolence letter from the HMSPR was handed over to Brig. Gen. Stevenson Olabanji who stood in for the theatre commander.
General Olabanji restated the readiness of the military to perform its statutory role of providing security cover for exploration activities in the Chad Basin and beyond.
Meanwhile, the GMD of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, on arrival of the delegation over the weekend, announced some short term palliatives for victims of the attacks.
Nigeria Working Together With Chad Basin Neighbours – Osinbajo
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that countries in the Lake Chad Basin have been working together very well in dealing with terrorism and the consequent humanitarian crisis in the region.
Osinbajo stated this while receiving a delegation from the African Union Peace and Security Council which has been visiting countries in the region on a fact-finding mission on the crisis as part of its mandate.
“The Lake Chad Basin collaboration is one we are extremely proud of, where we as Africans are working together on our own issues. I am pleased to say the countries have worked greatly together”, a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, quoted the acting president, as saying.
Citing the progress of the multi-national joint task force (MNJTF) set up to address the insurgency in the region, Osinbajo noted that unlike in the past when there were difficulties, when the militaries of the four countries tried to work together, the MNJTF surmounted the challenges and has succeeded.
According to him, the Buhari administration is “extremely pleased with what we have seen, and we like to see more,” of such cooperation.
He observed, however, that the humanitarian consequences of the insurgency are compounded by deep poverty, making the costs of dealing with the situation “huge and enormous”.
He recalled that there were, for instance, about 2.4 million displaced persons, extensive destruction of property, infrastructure, schools, homes and farmland, adding that in some cases the situation required the “rebuilding of whole societies”.
Osinbajo expressed satisfaction with the work of the Peace and Security Council of the AU. “I am extremely pleased and encouraged by the work of the PSC, the time and attention paid to this issue. These are matters we must address now and in the future”, he noted.
The PSC delegation was led by its chairperson for the month of July, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, who is also Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and to the AU.
In his remarks, he told the acting president that the PSC delegation has been visiting the four countries in the Lake Chad Basin in past five weeks and has specifically visited seven cities in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
“This visit is the high point of our mission”, Adeoye stated, adding that Nigeria’s commitment to peace in Africa has been well demonstrated.
The PSC of the African Union is the standing organ of the union for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Membership of the 15 member-council are drawn -three each- from Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Africa.
Niger-Delta Leaders Threaten To Pull Out Of Peace Talks November 1
Meanwhile, elders from the Niger Delta region under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) yesterday threatened to withdraw from peace talks with the federal government after November 1.
The elders said they arrived at this decision following federal government’s hesitation to implement the 16-point agenda which they submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on November 1 last year.
They also lambasted the federal lawmakers over the rejection of devolution of powers at the recent constitutional amendment.
They, however, canvassed for a return to 1960 independence constitution, noting that “anything else will be obnoxious and totally unacceptable to the entire peoples of the entire Southern and Middle Belt areas of Nigeria”.
National leader/convener of PANDEF and former federal commissioner of information, Chief Edwin Clark, stated this at a press conference in Abuja.
Speaking in company of his co-convener and traditional ruler, HRH Alfred Diete-Spiff, Clark regretted that despite assurances by the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, of the implementation of the agenda when he visited the region on a fact finding tour, nothing has been done.
The elder statesman added that he had received series of phone calls and text messages from youths in the region saying they have lost confidence in the ability of PANDEF to negotiate for peace and development in the region.
Clark said, “Human endurance has a limit, beyond which one cannot predict what the outcome will be. We submitted a 16-point demand to Mr President on November 1, 2016, and we had expected that, by its next anniversary, the 16-point agenda would have been comprehensive sorted out.
“If at the expiration of the November 1, 2017 ultimatum the federal government fails and/or refuses to accede to these lawful and legitimate demands of the Niger Delta people, PANDEF may consider pulling out of the on-going peace process in the Niger Delta”.
Some of the items in the 16 point agenda include relocation of oil companies to the region, the takeoff of the Nigerian maritime university in Okerenkoko, among others.
Clark added that “as a consequence of the federal government’s casual and sluggish approach to the immediate resolution of the current Niger Delta crisis, the patience of the youths and other critical stakeholders in the region was running out”.
On restructuring, the former federal commissioner of Information berated the National Assembly for rejecting devolution of powers.
“Back to the issue of restructuring and the nature of our present republic, I condemn the recent position of the National Assembly on the issue of devolution of power and Restructuring in the said constitutional amendment. Their action does not reflect the minds of Nigerians who voted them to office”, he stated.
Noting that the action of the current National Assembly was appalling, he added that “this is against the interest and unity of the country”.
Oil Price Hits 2 Months High At $53
Meanwhile, oil prices hit a two-month high on yesterday following a tightening United States (US) crude market and the threat of sanctions against OPEC-member Venezuela.
Brent crude futures were 52.90 dollars per barrel earlier in the day, their highest since May 25, even as U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 16 cents or 0.3per cent at 49.87 dollars per barrel.
The entire WTI curve is close to moving back over 50 dollars per barrel, with only September and October a notch below that level.
The price rise put both crude benchmarks on track for a sixth consecutive session of gains.
Prices have risen around 10 per cent since the last meeting of leading members by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers, including Russia.
At that instance, the group discussed potential measures to further tighten oil markets.
“US inventories are showing massive drawdown, Saudi Arabia seems intent on playing its role as the world’s swing producer. Impending sanctions on Venezuela by the US will almost certainly be oil price-supportive”, said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at futures brokerage, OANDA.
The US is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s vital oil sector in response to Sunday’s election of a constitutional super-body that Washington has denounced as a “sham” vote.
However, traders said the biggest price supporter was currently a tightening US oil market.
“Strong increases in the price of oil … (were) fuelled in large part by the substantial drawdowns in US inventories over the past several weeks”, said William O’Loughlin, analyst at Rivkin Securities.
“A continuation of this trend could indicate the oil market is rebalancing thanks to the production cuts by OPEC and Russia”, he added.
After rising by more than 10 per cent since mid-2016, US oil production dipped by 0.2 per cent to 9.41 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week to July 21.
Drilling for new US production is also slowing, with just 10 rigs added in July, the fewest since May 2016.
The tighter market was also visible in the price curve, which shows backwardation in the front end.
Backwardation is a market condition in which prices for immediate delivery of a product are higher than those later on.
Over $300bn Losses In Oil Investments In 3 Years, Says Kachikwu
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday lamented the loss of 300 billion dollars in oil investments globally in three years due to the decline in oil price.
Kachikwu who stated this at the 2017 Society of Petroleum Engineers’ (SPE) Nigeria Annual International Conference & Exhibition (NAICE) in Lagos said the losses were in oil exploration and production.
The theme of the conference is: “Building the Waves of Boom and Burst: Common Objectives Diverse Perspective’’.
The minister said on the Nigerian side, the loss of these investments was due to inefficiency in the country’s security policy and inconsistency in policies.
According to Kachikwu, while investors prefer to invest the limited resources elsewhere in African countries, what Nigeria is losing, other countries in Africa are gaining.
He said, “The situation is very challenging when it comes to losing opportunities arising from investment. For the first time in the oil sector, the decline in the oil price resulted into loss of jobs.
“Infrastructural gap is another factor which the decline in the price created. We have an infrastructural gap deficit of 50 billion dollars because government was responsible for infrastructure and we did not engage the private sector.
“The whole idea of the new petroleum policy is to move the private sector into financing part of the projects, because Government cannot do it alone”.
Noting that the boom and burst had become the way of life in the oil and gas sector, the minister said, “I think we have had about five circles of boom and burst over the last 35 years and each time, we begin as if we did not expect it.
“The boom and burst has become the nature of oil and we should not be surprised anymore. Over 80 per cent decline in world oil price was recorded between 2014 and 2016 with oil price falling between 25 dollars per barrel.
“All the same, we have managed through the principles of OPEC, to keep the price going between 45 and 50 dollars per barrel. For now, our expectations between the year 2017 and 2018, is to keep the price at 60 dollars per barrel”.
Kachikwu, however, said some countries and people were moving away from oil as electric motors take over globally.
“In the next 20 to 25 years, oil lifespan will expire, so we just need only five years to make a change of policy in the sector. We must make a traumatic decision for the oil sector to survive the innovation. The country needs a consistent policy and to deal with inefficiencies in our system to survive the trend”, he noted.