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Tackle oil theft, gas supply debt payment — IOCs to President-elect, Tinubu



…Lament 40% drop in gas for NLNG

By Ibiyemi Mathew

The International Oil companies (IOCs) in Nigeria have tasked the incoming administration of President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to tackle oil theft and settle debts owed by the government to encourage investment in the energy sector.

This was revealed at the Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) holding in Abuja.

Speaking at the CEOs panel at the Summit in Abuja, the panelists noted that  constant attacks on pipelines have reduced oil and gas production  to  60 per cent capacity in the past few years.

They tasked the new administration to ensure that investors such as gas suppliers to the power sector are paid for their investments in the sector.

The Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr Osagie Okunbor lamented that the government is still owing the company $200 million for gas supplied to the power sector.

While calling for the implementation of laws and policies governing the sector, he noted that the country is not short of frameworks and written documentation.

“What keeps me awake today is the story of my onshore business in Shell, is the fact that I simply cannot operate the pipelines. That’s what is responsible for the 60 per cent capacity.

“It aligns with how much gas we can supply because one of the key gas infrastructures, the  Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) is shut down for one year, from March to March. We removed 460 illegal connections from that line. We just reopened that line. We have lifted force majeure on Bonny and today we are struggling to catch up with our repairs programme.

“We think of this in terms of meeting up with our OPEC quota but an equally devastating implication is that we cannot supply the gas required to Nigeria LNG.

“So, if you ask me what the number  one issue for the incoming administration is, it has to be the security of our oil and gas infrastructure. I think it is so existential to us that if we don’t fix it, we have a huge problem on our hands,” he added.

The Executive Director, Deepwater, ExxonMobil Nigeria who represented the Chairman/MD of ExxonMobil Nigeria Mr Oladotun Isiaka tasked the incoming administration to work on improving the ease of doing business for operators in rhe country.

The Managing Director, Nigeria NLNG, Dr Phillip Mshelbila explained that due to challenges in the sector, the company operated at 60 per cent capacity utilisation, urging the in-coming government to take urgent actions to improve the business environment in the industry.

Mshelbila noted that fixing the electricity supply sector must be a priority for the new administration as it remains the core of every energy effort.

He said, “The starting point is that we have the resources underground and the second point is we have the demand. They are starved of energy yet live directly above the reservoirs. It is really about that connection. How do we connect the two in a sustainable manner? And that has been our biggest challenge.”

“For example, we are a global business, six trains. In 2022, we operated roughly about 62 per cent, why? Because we couldn’t get that connection to work. Coming into the domestic market, roughly 4 Gigawatts of electricity for a population of 200 million people.”

“So while the  Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) has done a great job, there are many things that remain to be dealt with. How do you make the gas-to-power sector work? For me, whatever we want to discuss energy for Nigerians in Nigeria if we don’t fix that value chain, you can pass 10 PIAs and all the other acts in the world it is not going to solve that problem.”

“How do you ensure that the person investing upstream in gas development, the person who is transporting it, the person who is building the power plant, the transmission and distribution systems, can all get paid at the end of the day?”.

He noted that the priority given to these issues by the next government would determine the success of failure or failure of whatever energy policy that they have going forward.

Addressing Nigeria’s readiness for the energy transition, Mr Austin Avuru, the Executive Chairman, AA Holdings stated that by 2025 the transition which I’d being spoken of will be hinged on independence and it will not be Nigeria’s making.

“It is happening and we are not paying attention to it. We are handling the transition by pointing to the one or two independent operators that are not doing so well to shrug it off.”

“The kind of support for independence that Nigeria should be showing in managing this energy transition we are not seeing it but we need it.”

“Domestic energy security will come from this independence we are waving away and it will come from the onshore and the Deep waters.”

“The LPG we are speaking about, we may not need the Nigeria LNG terminal 7 once the Seplat project is completed.”

“So, it is actually a national duty to come up with a programme of support to groom the capacity that this independent operators need. We need the support of the government to support the independent operators to serve this nation and this industry.” Austin declared.

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Divestments: Foreign investors cite harsh operating environment as reason for exit, pull out N310bn assets



Foreign investors have cited a harsh operating environment as reasons for their exit from the Nigerian market.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu had in his inauguration speech in May and also in August assured investors of his dedication to revitalising the nation’s economy by intensifying the removal of all bottlenecks obstructing efficient business establishment and management in Nigeria.

However, since the President came on board, the country has witnessed over four major foreign investors in the manufacturing and oil and gas sector exiting the country in droves citing high operational costs and unfavourable business climates as some of the reasons for their exit.

The latest exit announcement was made yesterday by Procter & Gamble (P&G) a major global player in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) segment and Equinor, another global player in the upstream oil sector.

With these new exits, Nigeria’s economy is expected to lose $335 million (about N310 billion) in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

The amount represents the combined assets value of the two companies.

Procter & Gamble (P&G), an American multinational consumer goods company, says it has plans to transition from local production to solely importing its products as the firm winds down its on-ground presence in Nigeria.

Equinor is exiting after selling its Nigerian business, including its share in the Agbami oil field to Nigerian-owned energy company Chappal Energies.

Explaining the decision, Chief Financial Officer, P&G, Andre Schulten said the decision is a result of “the challenging business environment in Nigeria, as well as the difficulty in creating US dollar value.”

On his part, Equinor’s Senior Vice President for Africa Operations, Nina Koch, in a statement, said, “Nigeria has been an important part of Equinor’s international portfolio over the past 30 years.

“This transaction realises value and is in line with Equinor’s strategy to optimise its international oil and gas portfolio and focus on core areas.”

In the second half of this year two other major multinational companies, GlaxoSmithKline, GSK, Consumer Nigeria Plc and Sanofi-Aventis Nigeria Limited, a French pharmaceutical company, pulled out assets estimated at over $800 million from Nigeria, citing harsh operating environment.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has blamed stringent regulatory and legislative activities, insufficient infrastructure, and policy inconsistencies for the difficulties faced by businesses.

Reacting to the exit of Procter & Gamble, P&G, NECA’s Director-General, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde expressed dissatisfaction with the news.

He however, commended the Federal Government for supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, and manufacturers through the disbursement of the N125 billion Presidential Palliative Programme.

The DG said, “NECA commends the Federal Government for supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and manufacturers through the disbursement of the N125 billion Presidential Palliative Programme.

“This strategic intervention is a proactive step in mitigating the impact of the multi-dimensional challenges currently being faced by businesses. It strongly emphasised the immediate need for decisive measures to halt the ongoing trend of companies divesting from the country.

“While we commend the Federal Government for the disbursement of the intervention funds, we urge a quick and definitive action to arrest the continuous exit and divestment of legitimate organizations in Nigeria.

“In the last few years, hitherto strong brands like GSK, Nampak and now P&G and some other local brands have either closed shop or divested fully or partially. These regrettable departures will persistently undermine the Federal Government’s efforts to attract Foreign Direct Investment, rendering its initiatives highly ineffective.

Highlighting the probable factors behind these business closures, the NECA boss asserted “that the challenging business landscape, marked by stringent regulatory and legislative activities, insufficient infrastructure, and policy inconsistencies, all conspired to exacerbate the difficulties faced by businesses.

“When established global brands like P&G cannot survive the environmental and regulatory onslaught, it is worrisome how many more businesses will capitulate.

“Regulatory bodies tasked with fostering business growth persist in prioritising revenue generation at the expense of their core mandate, while legislators, in the guise of oversight functions, consistently create impediments for organized businesses, hindering their operations.

“The contradictions and self-disruptive tendencies of many federal and state Institutions can only be imagined, as they negate the efforts of the President to attract Foreign Direct Investment.”

NECA implored President Bola Tinubu, as well as the Minister for Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, “to prioritise the survival of local businesses as the primary step before actively seeking Foreign Direct Investment.

“We advocate for the 2024 Appropriation Bill to address crucial infrastructural requirements conducive to business expansion, laying the groundwork for a prosperous nation.

“Additionally, he underscored the necessity of focusing on comprehensive tax reforms and addressing the challenges related to FOREX and exchange rates with a sense of urgency.”

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CBN reviews service charter to drive ease of doing business



By Sodiq Adelakun

In a significant move to bolster the ease of doing business in Nigeria, the  Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Yemi Cardoso, has officially approved a revised “Service Charter” for the nation’s apex bank.

This strategic initiative is a direct response to the mandates of the Business Facilitation Act 2022, which aims to streamline business operations and enhance customer service delivery across the country.

The CBN announced on Thursday that the newly reviewed charter is designed to establish a clear framework for interactions between the bank and its external stakeholders. By adhering to the provisions of the charter, the CBN commits to aligning with the directives set forth by SERVICOM, the government agency responsible for promoting efficient and effective service delivery in public offices.

The implementation of the service charter is expected to mark a new era of transparency and accountability in the CBN’s operations, ensuring that the bank’s services are delivered in a customer-centric manner.

This development is anticipated to have a positive impact on the Nigerian business landscape, fostering a more conducive environment for both local and international investors.

Governor Cardoso’s endorsement of the service charter underscores the CBN’s dedication to upholding the principles of the Business Facilitation Act 2022 and its commitment to driving progress in Nigeria’s economic landscape.

“The document clearly outlines the bank’s mandates, vision, mission, and core values.

“It contains the list of services offered by the bank through its various departments and the service standards for each service.

“The service charter also includes a standardised customer complaints form for reporting service failures as well as a mechanism for addressing failures in any of the bank’s services,” it stated.

It added that the service charter reiterated CBN’s commitment to effective and prompt service delivery to its stakeholders and to its customers.

“It enables our customers to know the range of services provided by the bank as well as the standards at which these services would be provided.

“It equally states redress procedures in the event of service failure from any of our service windows.

“The charter applies to all stakeholders and customers of the bank,” it stressed.

In the foreword to the reviewed document, Cardoso reiterated CBN’s commitment to providing more responsive and citizen-friendly governance through quality service delivery that is efficient, accountable and transparent.

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At UBA Business Series, e-commerce owners urge SMEs to prioritise delivering value



Seasoned business  owners have advised Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) owners and operators on winning tips that will help them run successful online businesses especially in the face of growing competition and challenging business terrain.

Speaking during the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Business Series hybrid event at the bank’s Head office in Lagos on Thursday, the entrepreneurs and E-commerce experts agreed that SMEs should start small and offer value-added services to their customers as these are essential factors to help them grow their businesses into successful empires.

The Chief Executive Officer,, Nnamdi Ekeh, the Founder/CEO RenDoll Fashion Brand, Reni Abina, and Media Personality & Entrepreneur, Kaylah Oniwo were panellists at the event who spoke on the topic; E-commerce: the Effects of Online Retail.

“There is a need for proper documentation. Data is very important for business growth, as it gives you your conversion rates, and lets you know what to do to improve these rates to boost business patronage,” Ekeh said, as he emphasised that boosting security as regards payment options is also very important.

On her part, Abina advised E-commerce business owners and prospective owners to make use of reputable online influencers to promote their businesses, as she said, “It is important to find influencers in your field that are fitting to your brand and the kind of business you do.”

“It is important for business owners to know how their brands are being positioned; remember to track your growth properly as this will help you to know what you are doing right or wrong at every point in time,” Oniwo stated as she pointed out that the need for business owners to take the storytelling element of their business very important.

Together, all the speakers at the event noted that business owners should ensure that their businesses are duly registered, with functional business accounts as this gives a large amount of credibility to the company.

Speaking earlier, the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Alero Ladipo, said UBA organises these business series frequently as they go a long way towards equipping customers with the much needed strategies to help build their businesses.

She said, “This year alone, we have had several conversations around business and health, personal finance and now, we are talking about e-commerce. To us as a bank, it is important that we have these conversations and the topic for this session is E-commerce, and is very important as we wrap up the year, because this is the season for giving and a lot of buying and selling will be going on during this period.

“As a financial institution that cares about its customers, UBA is interested in bringing in great speakers, experienced business people and thought leaders to educate its customers and Small business owners as they can then take the points discussed in these series and work with them to improve upon and positively impact their businesses,” she stated.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees’ group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally. Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.

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