AFRICA/NIGERIA - Nigeria will reform its oil sector: “We want to create a company which is competitive abroad ”

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Lagos (Agenzia Fides) - General restructuring of Nigeria's oil section will follow the approval by the federal government of a National Gas and Oil Policy.
On the basis of the new plan the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC will be split into 5 different entities, including a company charged with working national oil fields, a company in charge of distribution of refined fuel, and a financial company and oil services. The Ministry for Energy will be replaced with the National Petroleum Office.
According to some local observers the re-organisation of the hydrocarbon sector both in the working stage and that of the distribution derives from the excessive power assumed by the NNPC, considered an organisation of little transparency in which inspection functions also coexist. The controller and the controlled live practically under the same roof, giving rise to legitimate suspicions of conflict of interests and corruption. Nigeria intends to transform its petroleum company into an international operator like Brazil's Petrobras, which can function abroad.
The newly elected President, Umaru Yar'Adua, said correct functioning of the energy sector is a priority in his policy. Nigeria lives the contradiction of being a major African oil producer but also plagued by continual interruptions of power and fuel shortages. In fact refined oil products are imported from abroad (condition common to other crude oil producer countries which have no refinery). Another problem which afflicts Nigeria's energy section are thefts of oil and oil products. While crude oil is stolen by international organisations, the theft of fuel is committed by the people exasperated by the high prices and scarcity of the refined products. In several cases there have been serious accidents causing hundreds of dead.
To increase its production of electrical power Nigeria intends to build a nuclear plant (see Fides 27 July 2007 righe 34 parole 352).