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The Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) is a professional association that has been existing for forty-two years and has remained the premier petroleum body with key stakeholders in the oil and gas industry in sub-Sahara Africa. The association has also remained committed to promoting the study and practice of petroleum research. It has weathered various downturns and remained strong. The revered association which major objective is to find oil and gas, has grown in membership with over ten thousand individuals, members, including hundred and fifty corporate members.

The President of NAPE Abiodun Adesanya made it known that in 2016, the association made recommendations to government and they were implemented. Part of what was deliberated on in 2015 is included in the current budget by President Mohammadu Buhari. In his words, “As an oil and gas producing country, we need a situation whereby we use what we have to develop what we need rather than thinking of global supply and the impact of oversupply.” Nigeria needs to look inward and make use of its resources for development. He made commendable remark that NAPE has been involved in exploration of oil and gas in Nigeria, over the years its members involved in exploration has produced about 65 million barrels of oil. Its activities have been instrumental in terms of development in the oil industry.

Nigeria target is to raise its reserve to 40 million barrels, the association believes it is achievable with concise details, policies, programmes and support by the government with laws guiding petroleum activities, the country will be able to achieve this objective. The President disclosed that NAPE has made recommendations to government concerning marginal field development which was started since 2003 including gas development. On the Frontier Basins exploration, Adesanya stated clearly that “New find will come in the country, not just in the Niger Delta, even though there is still a lot to discover in the Niger Delta, a lot more will come from the Frontier Basins as well. In this case, we are not restricted in anyway by gas or otherwise.”  The country is currently exploring the Frontier Basins and there is collaboration with NAPE to ensure that some of the past mistakes that were made in the exploration strategy are corrected.

During his opening speech at the 35th Annual conference and exhibition of the association, the president elect, Andrew Ejaiyesere stated that 2017 represents a water shed moment. Even before the crude oil prices, industry stakeholders have been concerned about the long time brickbat of a huge oil demand, project funding and retention from the oil and gas industry. Stakeholders are also concerned about the current approach with the militant attacks in the Niger Delta region if it will be permanent or temporal. NAPE is a place to foster great ideas and promote the careers and well-being of its members. The president elect averred that as part of technical capacity building programme for the next generation of members, the association has been organizing various events at universities campuses to keep its members afloat strategically and technically. The association fosters knowledge sharing among its members and key stakeholders in addition to its annual conference, there is monthly technical meeting across different chapters. Ejaiyesere noted that the association looks for avenue to promote its profile being affiliated with several international professional associations of like minds in earth sciences in order to promote best practices in the Nigerian petroleum industry. It has also cultivated a continued brochure in geo-science profession and development of scientific mind required for economic advancement.

However, according to the president elect, challenges are part of existence, but the onus is on the professionals to chat the part that will lead to greater activities in the petroleum industry. Ejaiyesere made it known that the 2017 NAPE conference with the theme “The Road Map for Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry in Diversifying Economy” aligned with the current focus by the federal government on the diversification of the country’s economy. In the foreseeable future, the significant part of energy portfolio will continue to be petroleum and remain the major source of revenue for Nigeria. There is no gainsaying that the government needs the revenue in the oil and gas sector to fund its diversification programme and “This should encourage us to bring about the change required for the uplifting of the petroleum industry.” “I am confident that this conference will enable the exchange of ideas and key industry players including the government will make this happen,” he added.

The NAPE helmsman pointed out that the objective of the association is to grow in a way that needs to enhance international discipline and impact on government policy. The professional association will continue to play an important role in strengthening the ties between the academic, petroleum industry and government to overcome the current challenges and protect the industry for the future.

The conference was a rich experience for all attendees because it caters with government, industry executives, and technical professionals among others. There were also opportunities for networking for young professionals and programmes for members and non-members where over one hundred and sixty quality technical and oral papers were presented based on technical competence. The exhibition goals were critical to overall success of the conference because companies and organizations used the ample opportunity to create awareness and market existing market including new technology to stakeholders and potential customers. The service companies also used the opportunity to showcase their service areas of interest and competitive advantage.

Ejaiyesere was optimistic that challenges facing the industry can be resolved through stakeholders working together to proffer solutions and the association is well positioned to continue its role in generating ideas that will continue to grow and sustain the Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

The Minster of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi in his remarks at the conference made it known that his role in government is significant owing to the country’s rich mineral resources. Mining is the most critical aspect of Nigeria’s economy resources hence the Ministry of Mining was at one time supervising the petroleum sector which was a division in the ministry. “The petroleum sector used to be a very young sibling of mining and solid minerals sector as at the end. But now there is a reversal of fortunes”. He disclosed that in order to succeed and manage the ministry well, he has appointed professionals from the exploration industry to man sensitive aspect of the Mining Ministry. Fayemi asserted that exploration remains at the heart of the solid minerals sector. A lot of ideas can be taken from the extensive works that have been done in the sector towards diversifying the economy.

Representing the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Wale Oluwo, delivered the message of the governor. Ambode made it known that the state is producing oil and it has ambitious programme with respect to “how we drive the oil and gas sector in Lagos State including the Solid Minerals sector”. Owing to the theme of the conference, the governor opined that diversifying the sector should bother every keen stakeholder. The country should be focused due to the advent of new technology such as electric cars that might render the relevance of fossil fuel useless. The landscape of Nigeria has never experienced extensive development, “I am not sure the electric cars can be used to develop the vast land in the north, and in the east and in the south. That is not to say that these developments are no threats to what we stand for,” Ambode added.

Since the conference is about a road map, there should be signs of where the oil industry is heading to. Lagos has a road map for its energy sector for the next twenty-five years and what the state will intend to partner with NAPE on, in respect to road map which is the starting point, is that there has been no bidding rounds after the first set. This is a serious concern to stakeholders. The governor noted that “If electric cars and other technology are going to be threats, we need our most important assets to be relevant for the next ten to fifteen years.” Why has these blocs not be given out? If the blocs are given out, it is possible that oil may not be found in the next ten to twenty-five years by those who won the bid round. He advised the country to focus more on natural gas. If cars will be invented without drivers and petrol, the country should look at other means like gas and create market for it. NAPE’s road map should be robust with respect to deregulation and creating an environment that will be private sector driven in exploration, development and sustainability. The governor added that the road map should not be limited on upstream alone, but it has to transcend the midstream and downstream. The state has assembled committees and stakeholders to move its energy sector forward.

There were several activities such as the awards programme where the association recognized its teeming members who have distinguish themselves. The Aret Adams award was given to Professor C.S Nwajide while the Pre-conference communique was given to Fayemi for onward transmission to the Federal Government for implementation. The best exhibition awards went to Shell while other exhibitors won various awards according to categories including technical papers among others. The conference ended after a change of guard, Adesanya handed the mantle of leadership to Ejaiyesere, who is presently the president of the association for another one year.

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