Nigeria must protect pipelines to remain economically strong — CEO, ECA


In this Interview with the Publisher, Nigerian NewsDirect, Dr. Samuel Ibiyemi, the Chief Executive Officer, Energy and Corporate Africa (ECA), Sunny Oputa, speaks on the resolutions of the 2019 Nigerian International Pipeline Technology & Security Conference (NIPITECS), the need for the hands of all stakeholders to be on deck in promoting and addressing the challenges of the pipeline industry, and the need for the government to formulate workable and practicable laws to protect the industry for effective operations. Excerpts: 

You have assembled the conference of professionals and experts this year as you did year; can you share the motivating factors for these conferences?  

Well, the motivation is seeing the challenges of pipelines utilisation, knowing that it is very important for all stakeholders to get involved to promote the pipeline industry. Pipeline is like the bridge between the upstream, mainstream and the downstream, and it’s a critical asset to our socio economic development. As a crude oil and gas producing nation, if we don’t do something that will help us to ensure revenue for our country, then we don’t have to start complaining about the economy of the country not to be good or to be bad. If the pipeline sector is not working efficiently, the industry will not work and the economy will be bad. So, the motivation to me apart from business, is a moral obligation as a stakeholder to help render my own ideas and help others to come and brainstorm to generate ideas on the best option on how to protect the industry and to make it viable. It is also very important for us to think about how to attract foreign investors and encourage domestic investors. By having a conference and a forum like this, people would generate ideas and we would be able to proffer solutions and also give people forum to network for business optimisation.

Can you comment on the responses and feedback gotten from the conference held last year?

From what we had last year, we found that people are very

interested in the pipeline industry and the growth of the industry.

We can see a monumental growth in what happened this year. It shows the kind of confidence people are having and the pretty good thing about it is the big endorsement from NNPC, with the Group Managing Director Mele Kyari endorsing the conference and endorsement by the Federal Ministry of Petroluem through the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum, DR (Mrs) Folashade Yemi-Esan. It shows you the importance the government attaches to the pipeline industry. So it’s growing and it is a market that has not been touched. There are a lot of problems that have not been solved and the way for we really to do it is for us to become economi-cally viable. If we must remain a strong hydro-carbon producing nation, we must protect the pipeline industry.

From the delibera-tions and brainstor-ming of the confe-rence, what do you think are the sub-missions stakehold-ers and partici-pants have gotten to take home? 

The stakeholders have come to understand that everybody must get involved and they know that the solution lies in our hands. They also have come to understand what I call the “practical synergic importance” of pipeline in the industry. If we must have a touch on the value chain and even the stakeholders to get what they believe belongs to them; if you must have power in your home; if you must enjoy the good things of life, you have to be part of it. It is no longer an issue of corporate social responsibility on the part of mega oil companies or the oil companies. It is also a part of our own corporate share responsibility as an individual to give back to our community by helping to protect infrastructures in our community that will help to generate a quantum of social economic development. So everybody knows that all hands must be on deck to make this to be a success.

As a stakeholder in the pipeline industry, do you think we have enough laws in the Country to check vandalism of pipelines? 

We don’t have enough laws thinking of what happens in the western world like Europe, USA and Russia. Thinking of going to London, Russia, America, and the likes, they do have laws. We must make these laws in a way that men and women should understand the consequences and be able to apply them where necessary. One thing is to make law and another thing is to apply it. It doesn’t matter if whoever is involved is from my own side. You must also make laws that has human considerations. When you make laws and the socio economic level have a deficit; what I mean by the socio economic level having deficit, is that poverty has a way of generating ill feeling. They say that an hungry man is an angry man. We must ensure economic development so that when we are applying these laws, you don’t say that a man strong enough to pluck an orange to eat is a thief. If probably you will call him a thief, but it could be that he plucked the orange because he his hungry. If we can create an enabling environment, then whatever law we make will work. And we must have the political will-power to do it. We must also create a good physical policy with a degree of leadership. Leadership in this sense is that the leader-ship understands what is workable and what is not workable.