Nigerian oil minister Madueke at helm of positive changes to oil industry

Nigeria is an African nation sitting on a vast oil and gas fortune; but in the past its oil and gas industry has sometimes proven controversial and caused international concern. Now the country’s oil minister, Mrs. Diezani-Alison Madueke is pushing steps to revolutionise the industry to the benefit everyone – not least Nigerians themselves.

Nigeria’s recently-unveiled Gas Master Plan (GMP) initiative focuses on the emerging gas based industries such as fertiliser, petrochemicals and methanol, and will result in foreign direct investment of about USD 10 billion between 2012 and 2014. The full implementation of the GMP agenda will result in about USD 25 billion worth of investments in gas processing, transmission and downstream gas utilisation projects.

In terms of employment and wealth creation, the Nigerian government estimates that over 100,000 engineering design and construction-related jobs will be created in the sector from 2012 and beyond and over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs from construction, logistics, hotel and hospitality services, fabrication, banking and agriculture.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s Nigerian Content Act came into force last year and seeks to keep more of Nigeria’s oil wealth inside the country. Over 80 percent of oil investment in Nigeria has traditionally fled the country in the coffers of international corporations. The Nigerian Content Act aims to reduce this to a more acceptable 50 percent – thereby boosting the economy by USD 10 billion.

Oil and gas minister Mrs. Diezani-Allison Madueke fully supports the President’s act; but emphasises that wealth retention is not best-achieved by regulation alone so the government has also been investing heavily in infrastructure and training. There is already a brand new Welders’ Training Workshop in Kaduna teaching Nigerians welding skills that will meet oil and gas standards. Elsewhere candidates from all parts of Nigeria are being trained in “Human Capacity Development Programmes” to develop a national skills pool in the oil and gas sector. Over 1,000 trainees from the northern part of Nigeria have already passed through the programme.

In the downstream sector, the President has given the go ahead to investors interested in building refineries in Nigeria. Three such refineries will be constructed and are expected to eliminate the need to import petroleum product into Nigeria. Instead Nigeria will become a net exporter of refined products, creating 10,000 jobs in the process.

Meanwhile, the search to expand Nigeria’s extensive oil and gas fields continues and exploration work over 413,000 sq. km is planned – work which will employ trained experts, as well as over 3,000 unemployed young people. The Oil minister Madueke says she is sure significant finds lay ahead, as such high-tech exploration methods have never before been used in Nigeria.

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