INTERVIEW: FG Should Negotiate Deep Offshore Basin With Current Lease Holders – MD, ND Western

Eberechukwu Oji is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of ND Western, one of the fastest growing indigenous exploration and production companies in Nigeria.

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He has experience spanning over 25 years in the oil and gas sector. Oji, who has worked in several countries including Australia, India, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, among others, is also a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a Chattered Engineer with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).

In this interview with THE WHISTLER, he discusses the impact of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act on the growth of indigenous operators, how the Federal Government can attract direct investments to achieve the target of the Decade of Gas initiative, need to optimize the country’s crude oil and gas exploration, and other pertinent issues in the oil industry.

What Impact Has NOGICD Act Had In The Growth Of ND Western As An indigenous Company?

The impact the NOGICD Act has had on the growth of ND Western is what we can see in the industry today where we have so many indigenous companies in the Upstream sector adding value to the growth of the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry, creating more job opportunities for the citizens, upskilling and re-skilling our workforce to be competitive at a global stage and eventually creating economic financial stability for our country. Credit can be given to the NOGICD Act for the sale of IOCs previously held assets to indigenous companies such as ND Western.

In An Interview Mid Last Year, You Said That ND Western Will Increase Its Gas Production From 360 Million Standard Cubic Feet Per Day (MMSCFD) To 400 MMSCFD Before The End Of The Year. Were You Able To Achieve This Target?

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That was our target as a company and we had all operational indications to meet this target. But unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control from UPS challenges to SPDC’s SPM repair challenges, it was difficult to meet this target. And this kept our production within the 360mmscfd for the year 2022. But we look forward to meeting this target in the 2023.

In January 2022, ND Western Was Reported To Be One Of The Four Independent Oil And Gas Companies That Submitted Non-Binding Bids For Shell Plc Assets In Nigeria. What Is The State Of The Bid Now?

Well as regards to this information, we cannot say more than what is in the public space at the moment. As soon as further details are available, the press will be the first to know. But as a company, our goal is to be a world class Integrated Energy Company of Choice in Africa. So we will always seek opportunities in projects/investments that are commercially viable for us and for the country.

It Is Estimated That Nigeria Needs About $40bn Of Direct Investments To Achieve The Target Of The Decade Of Gas Initiative. What Do You Think The Country Can Do To Attract This Level Of Investments?

There is a need for long-term investments and strategic partnership between public and private stakeholders to really harness Nigeria’s potentials and achieving FGN’s decade of gas initiative.

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Government Policies should be investor friendly to enable more investments into Nigeria.

There are infrastructural deficits that needs to be addressed aggressively to maximize our gas potentials. Some of the pipeline projects have stalled for years now and are being re-ignited due to global supply shortages with the Russia- Ukrain war, so there is a need to get the support of local and international financial institutions for these bankable projects.

I advocate more creativity and innovation to leverage the Nigeria Stock and Capital Market to list more indigenous Oil & Gas companies and Service companies, to raise more corporate bonds, raise project specific capital etc.

It should be obvious to the Industry by now that we need to create our home-grown investor pool to attract funds into the Nigeria Oil and Gas sector and particularly to fund the Decade of the Gas initiative. It cannot be left to government alone.

The Cost Of Production Is Said To Be Very High In Nigeria, Unlike What Is Obtainable In Most Of Other Oil Producing Countries. As A Producer, How Can The Country Bring Down This Cost To Attract More Investors?

Factors that contribute immensely to the high cost of production are well known. The key issues faced by our industry are; pipeline vandalism & insecurity, unattractive and inconsistent fiscal terms, multiple taxation, long contract cycle and many other operational factors. With the implementation of the PIA and curbing of the insecurity challenges, we look forward to these challenges being addressed, however, there is the need for a collaborative effort by all stakeholders (host communities, operators and govt) to make this happen.

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It Has Been Established That Nigeria Has Abundant Oil And Gas Reserves. How Can The Country Maximize The known And Existing Ppotentials Whilst Making Further Investments In Exploration?

Nigeria has abundant oil and gas reserves, and it is important to optimize our crude oil and gas exploration. However, it is paramount for the government to create the enabling environment with respect to fiscal policies, improve on our pipeline infrastructural deficit and invest in technology for adequate monitoring through the entire value chain. With adequate collaboration this can be achieved and will eventually materialize to driving more investment appetite in the Oil and Gas industry.

My advocacy is that the government should specifically and specially negotiate the Nigeria Deep Offshore basin with the current lease holders and bring the pending projects in that space to FID quickly. The window for exploiting those opportunities is fast closing and it is only the big majors that have the capacity to fund these projects. The attendant benefit to the economy is huge and much needed now.

What Do You Think The Federal Government Can Do To Attract More Private Investment Participation In Frontier Basin Exploration?

The FGN must be creative to incentivize the exploration of the frontier basins by putting in place investor friendly policies and provide secure operational environment to attract private investors. Frontier basin exploration is extremely risky, therefore, to attract private investment, the reward must be very compelling. The task for the Federal Government is to create that compelling incentive. The way to look at the frontier basin investment is that we are in a global beauty pageant competition with other nations, the way you package and showcase your unexplored basins will determine the quality of investors and investment you will attract to your frontier basin. Then of course you have to provide security and access and overall improvement in the nations investment climate.

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