Abuja, Sept. 8, 2023: Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), says he will ensure the completion of ongoing construction of the N68.5 billion Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) `BARREL’ building without hitches.
The Minister made this known on Thursday while meeting with the management and staff of the NUPRC at its temporary headquarters in Abuja.
The meeting preceded Lokpobiri’s visit to the proposed NUPRC’s Headquarters complex site, called “THE BARREL”, located in the Central Business District, Abuja.
Lokpobiri said he would intervene to resolve challenges hampering the building construction, adding that he had already discussed with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on how to address its forex challenges, hence there should be a follow up.
“The commission is so important that you need to work in the best condition. To be able to optimise productivity; you need to be in the best environment.
“I am very sad that you are still in the temporary site. The survival of the oil industry depends on what you do; That is why I am interested in ensuring that we complete the building.
“The challenges you have will be mine. Yesterday, I was with the CBN Acting Governor, you need to follow up so that your income that you earn in dollars will be in the domiciliary account for you to expend, instead of converting to Naira,’’ he said.
He expressed satisfaction with the success being recorded by the commission by surpassing its financial projection, the steady progress and completion level recorded at the construction of its permanent site.
“I have been briefed by the contractor handling the project and they raised few concerns. We are going to work towards addressing those concerns,’’ he added.
Mr Gbenga Komolafe, Commission Chief Executive (CCE) who received the Minister, said its regulatory focus was to increase the oil and gas reserve in the nation which stood at 37 billion barrel of oil and 208 TCF of gas.
“We are focused on increasing that through our regulatory approach and of course stepping up the transparency of hydrocarbon account which is very dear to our hearts. So we are pursuing that through strategies and regulations we are putting in place.
“There is a provision in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that ensures the bye-in of the host community for inclusiveness in a manner that will encourage peaceful operation of the oil companies
“This is because without peace in the host community we cannot attain the set production target and revenue target for the nation. The commission is doing everything possible to step up effective implementation of that provision of PIA,’’ he said.
Komolafe said in view of this, it had ensured setting up of 82 host community development trust to serve as platform for implementation of that provision in the PIA to ensure peace.
He said it had made concerted effort to ensure reduction in the unit cost per barrel of oil targeted at ensuring that Nigerian upstream industry remained attractive to investors.
“We are equally in alignment with the global footprint in energy transition, ensuring decarbonisation in alignment with the nation’s net zero carbon emission commitment,’’ he added.
According to him, the commission, with a dedicated workforce of 933 staff nationwide, is being operated from five regional offices and four field offices.
In terms of revenue generation, he stated that as at July, it has already surpassed 50 per cent of its revenue generation, adding that since the last three years, it had remained so due to the hard work of the entire workforce.
Speaking on the ‘BARREL’ project, the CCE said the project (11th floor completion level) which was executed in 2021 and to be completed on Aug. 29, 2024, had its mode of payment through 65 per cent forex and 35 per cent local component.
Dr Taofik Popoola, Manager, Principal Artec Limited and the building’s design consultant, while speaking on the work status, said its installation and mobilisation recorded 100 percent, planning and design, 95 per cent, construction 96 per cent and procurement 48 per cent.
He listed challenges facing the construction to include inflation, COVID 19 pandemic effect, increase in prices of material, Naira devaluation (per dollar/N978 currently) and the Russian-Ukraine crisis.
“Naira to dollar was N385 at the time the contract was signed, it increased to N750 and now at N978.
“All these are unfortunately having negative effects on the procurement process, cost of project and time scheduling.’’ he said.
Mr Luis Sousa, Project manager, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, further explained that due to COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine Crises, supply chain of some materials was affected especially in the area of steel supply because Ukraine is the major producer of steel components.