The Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) recently had its awards night where the immediate past president, Abiodun Adesanya revealed to energy correspondents that the association is aware that Nigeria is looking for avenues to divest its economy and NAPE has been playing its advisory role on where the government seems to be groping in the dark. On the Frontier Basin exploration, the past president made it known that there must be strategic, systemic, logical and data driven. Nigeria should approach exploration activities the way other climes do in order to avoid wastages and trial by error. Adesanya was optimistic that science and technology is evolving in Nigeria and discovery could be made in the future in its Frontier Basins. Excerpts:
As the immediate past president of NAPE, how do you look forward to improving all that the association has been doing and what do you expect from the new president?
First of all as the immediate past president, I am still at the executive committee that has taken over. NAPE constitution deliberately makes it like that so that there will be continuity. If Nigeria can emulate NAPE, the issue of continuity in government will be resolved, because of the unique characteristic of this culture in NAPE, it is very difficult to have issues with continuation and this is improving the quality of leadership in the association. There is a number of good things NAPE has been able to come up with. Taking a look at theme of the conference, we went from technical to business topics and in the last two years, Nigeria’s economy has had challenges. Last year we emphasized about the realities of the oil industry, people were being laid off, contracts were reducing, there are no jobs and there were vandalization in the Niger Delta.
This year the country has come out from recession as of November, the country is still improving in that situation. NAPE is aware that Nigeria is looking for a way and avenues to divest its economy, we attended to that in this conference that just ended. The beauty is that next year, we will focus a bit into our technical areas. There is a logic in the way we organize ourselves, we marshal our programmes in a logical way to address the larger audience and people who are not our members in order to influence things. There is also a lot of influencing in terms of government policies. NAPE advises the government on topical issues or any issue that relates to its business which the government seems to be groping in the dark and it is not able to resolve. The association gets experts around the world, deliberate about the issue and come out with a communique which will be presented to the government. We make the authority to understand that as an association, this is the outcome of our deliberation. For instance, NNPC has been selling some of its shares in the Joint Ventures (JV) and the government is borrowing money to meet up its budget. As Shell is divesting, NNPC could as well divest. This is not to encourage the government to sell all its assets, but take a positive initiative like the International Oil Companies (IOCs). This will assist the government to fund its roads, rails and power projects across the country. By extension, it will have multiplier effects on the economy of the country. These are some of the logic and ways the association organizes its programmes. NAPE is a continuum and there is no vacuum. As part of the executive committee, the new president of NAPE, Andrew Ejayeisere will have me as a reference point and adviser. I will always leverage my own experience to him and that way the association keeps on moving and growing from one level to the other.
It has been discovered that most policy makers do not attend NAPE awards night compared to sister organizations like the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). Government representatives and policy makers hardly make it to NAPE awards night. In today’s awards night, there are no major industry persons from the government, why?
NAPE awards night programme is not where we invite government officials. Today’s awards night was majorly focused on awardees because it is a social event. Where we invite relevant government officials is the opening ceremony, pre-conference workshop, all convention luncheon and management session. In each of these four programmes, NAPE gives ideas to Nigeria and the world. If you look at our conference this year, for the pre-conference workshop we invited Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, a retired ex-Special Adviser on Petroleum Matters. This is what will generate the communique and it was handed over to Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals on the day of the opening ceremony for onward transmission to the Minister of Petroleum who is also the president. It will definitely get to its destination.
During the all convention luncheon, Dr. Fayemi and Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State attended the event. We used the opportunity to look into another topic entirely. That topic addressed many challenges in the oil industry. How do we diversify? It was a political issue and that was where Obi said NAPE members should join politics, “you cannot stand outside the fence and be throwing stones inside the compound, enter the compound and go and talk, if you want Nigeria to change, that is the way to do it.” When we had our management session, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru attended. He was not represented, he came with his delegation. The only key person that was not at the event, was the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources who could not make it but his counterpart at the Ministry of Solid Minerals was there. The most important thing is that our communique needs to get to government and it was handed over to him.
Do you think all the resources that is being channeled to the Frontier Basins justify the efforts? It has been discovered that gas has been found, do you think we can really get what we are looking for in the basins?
What are we looking for, is the first question to ask. We are looking for oil and now we are looking for oil and gas. Initially, the focus was oil which was why the gas that was found was covered because the objective was not gas. The objective was oil. Now that we need gas, it has been brought to the table. This is the beauty of finding gas in the Frontier Basin. There is no need to lay pipelines of gas from Niger Delta to these Basins. This is significant in order to generate electricity for power usage. The second aspect is that, when gas is discovered in the land basin, there is no need to connect pipeline to anywhere else. The national grid can be connected from that point to the Independent Power Plant (IPP). It is easier and cheaper with economic sense.
On the issue of money that has been spent, the fact is that the money spent was well utilized. This is what I tried to do when I was the president with a lot of professionalism. NAPE is collaborating with the Frontier Exploration Service (FES). We cannot run away from the fact that mistakes were made in the past which is what called off the minds of pessimists about exploration in the Frontier Basins. We cannot say because cure for HIV has not been found then funding research should be stopped. Mankind needs solutions to HIV. This is how it is in the oil industry. We need science and data. These are the two critical elements that tells either to go or not. There is a point you start searching and when it is futile the search can be stopped after it has been confirmed that nothing positive can come out of it. Until we get to that point, we cannot stop the search because it cannot stop half way. Otherwise somebody will discover that the distance to attain exploration is very short. Then you regret that you would have preserve a little, this is the logic behind exploration. The key area that we need to worry about is, how much are we spending now, is it well spent? Is that how advanced countries spend their money? They have dug 23 wells in Chad Basin and 3 were dug where gas was found. In Ghana, how many wells did they dig before the country became an oil producing country? It was not up to 23. In Kenya, how many well did they drill? It was not up to 23. Uganda, Angola and Senegal which is the hottest place in terms of oil now, how many wells did they drill? So, how is it done here? We are not doing it correctly. We should not drill except there is a good imagery on ground and we see the picture clearly. This requires seismic data that will be interpreted clearly for the true picture to be seen. This is the roadmap of how exploration is conducted which is what is done now. I have had audience with Baru in company with Dr. Bako, head of FES at last year’s conference with eminent senior members of NAPE to advise the corporation on how go about the Basins. Exploration must be strategic, systemic, logical and data driven. It must be science driven as well. This is the stage where we are right now. It will not be business as usual, everything will be justifiable before it is done. There must be real clear cut objective. We are not saying there is oil or find Bonga field, but we should approach it the way it is done in other climes to make money and they made discovery. Some countries have explored oil in some of their basins and they did not find anything. South Africa is an example, after inviting the IOCs and majors nothing could be found. By current knowledge, Nigeria’s science and technology is evolving and discovery could be made in future.