African producers adopt Local Content policy

Sopuruchi Onwuka

Petroleum producing countries in Africa have resolved to evolve climate action plans that would be suitable for the continent for meeting the double goals of energy security and environmental responsibility.

The countries led by Nigeria and sister members of the African Petroleum Producers Association (APPO) would under the new cooperation develop regional action plans that set new climate protection targets while driving sustainable investments in production of petroleum in sustainable manner.

Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote

The group also revolved to renegotiate its role in the COP-21 Climate Change Agreement which seeks migration of energy demand by all sectors of the global economy from fossil fuels to green renewable sources.

The Oracle Today reports that the new pan African energy sustainability campaign supported by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and APPO was initially adopted that the maiden edition of the African Local Content Roundtable hosted at the Nigerian Content Tower, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, and rapidly consolidated with a strong resolution at the just concluded Nigerian International Petroleum Summit hosted at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The common position by African producers came in response to accelerated move by developed countries to displace fossil fuels including oil, gas and coal with renewable options as preferred energy for transportation.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre, Sylva who delivered the keynote address at the two-day retreat in Yenegoa charged African oil producers to cooperate closely in developing and sharing capacity in order to optimize hydrocarbon resources in achieving economic growth and development.

He also canvassed timely creation of innovative local funding mechanisms that are independent of foreign banks for financing major projects. He also made it clear that realization of the prime goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could be easily fired with available fuels within the continent.

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He emphasized that AfCFTA would make it possible for well-established local manufacturing, operating and service companies to operate across the continent’s hydrocarbons industry without hitches.

In his presentation, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, said the African Local Content Roundtable was part of the agency’s 10-Year strategic roadmap to ensure patronage for local capacity.

He canvassed establishment of Africa Local Content Fund that could provide funding for oil and gas development projects in Africa.

He said the funding arrangement had become necessary in view of closing windows for international financing for hydrocarbon related projects.

“These funds can also be utilized to part-finance infrastructural projects in support of production and evacuation of oil and gas products for use by the African populace,” he added.

Mr Wabote, an eminent industry engineer, also emphasised the need for African oil producers to invest in research and development, insisting that “no nation can really develop by being a consumer of other countries’ technology and intellectual properties.

“Local content thrives where there is robust research and development guideline to drive development of home-grown technology.  Countries that have witnessed appreciable local content level such as Brazil attributed the growth to the priority attention given to R&D.”

Secretary General of APPO, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, told the delegates that that the group, OPEC and other producing countries demand for the renegotiation of the climate change agreement during the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled for November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

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He said: “Our position is that we have looked at the 2015 COP 21 Climate Change Agreementand we believe that there is a need for some review of some things that our leaders signed on our behalf.

“Oil is the main stay of our national economies and we want the life of oil to last as long as possible to enable us use the revenue to effectively diversify our economies.”

He explained that COP 21 agreement which sought to reduce the world’s use of fossil fuel by 20 percent and increase renewable energy by 20 percent by year 2020 was inimical to the survival of the economies of African oil producers.

With proven oil reserves of over 100 billion barrels of crude oil still in our grounds and economies still heavily dependent on export oil revenue, he pointed out, African nations are not ready to forgo the production of those barrels and classify them as wasted assets.

He noted that already the leading economies have started to implement the agreement “by introducing discriminatory policies against fossil fuels, while international financial institutions like the World Bank, International MonetaryFund and others have stopped or plan to stop funding fossil fuel projects. Even the International Operating Companies that built their fortunes from fossil fuels are now redirecting investments away from oil and gas and international centers of excellence in universities are now closing their faculties in other to be seen to be in conformity with the new global paradigm shift.”

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Dr. Ibrahim warned that the implications of the push are that “advancement in new technologies in the industry would grind to a halt in the next few years; financing of the industry would dry; influx of capable hands and renewals of skills would also stop.”

He also commended NCDMB for convening the African Local Content Summit and assured that APPO would participate actively in sponsoring and hosting the event across Africa. He averred that different countries started operations in the oil industry at different times and with varied capacities and it was high time the players begun to learn from those countries that had accumulated years experience.

According to him, “the era of going it alone in this continent and this industry is gone. We need to pull resources together before it is too late.  Together we have what it takes to extend the life of oil, if not for the global market, at least to energize our continent which has over 600m people living without access to modern energy.”

The two-day summit ended with a site visit to the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park being developed at Emeyal-1, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

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