The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in her speech painted a rather gloomy picture for the industry in the light of dwindling oil prices. How do you think Nigeria can overcome the challenge the minister foresees for the industry? The industry from the last few years has been growing from strength to strength. At the time this conference started there were only few indigenous participants from Nigeria but now you find that almost 85 per cent of the exhibitors are Nigerian companies. We have seen a progressive movement in the oil and gas industry over the last 15 years.The challenges she referred to in her speech are global. The challenge of low oil price now is affecting not only Nigeria but globally and of course we are responding to those situations as appropriate.You have seen already that most of the international oil companies are even cutting down their capital expenditure and also it is observed that even the Nigerian companies that we are promoting are also geared towards handling these kinds of challenges. It is a universal thing. The minister also said falling oil prices mean that government is going to have less revenue accruing to it. How are we going to meet our budget projections in Nigeria? It’s obvious, if oil price continues the way it is the resultant revenue to government is going to be minimised and in that context it means whatever plans that government has and international oil companies have, they will have to look at it in the context of what actually is and then prioritise their projects as appropriate to meet those challenges. Now that we are targeting 4m barrels oil production by 2020, mature fields are drying up, and because of rising cost new fields are difficult to develop, what do you think is the way out for Nigeria? Certainly, like I said you have to prioritise but you have to look at all your developmental plans. If the net return is withering, obviously you have to prioritise your projects appropriately so that you can still keep that objective. By 2020 our objective is to start producing about four million barrels per day and the only way we can do that is to look at our programmes and prioritise appropriately. Hopefully the price of crude will improve over the next few years.Nobody is sure of that…? Well, you cannot be sure but certainly the projection is not too bad. Obviously, this has thrown everybody off balance but if you look at the projection in the near term, there is going to be a slight increase in the price hopefully and as we try to wrestle with the problems that we face, we will prioritise appropriately.Talking about prioritising programmes and projects, do you think the easiest way out for your JV partners is to cut down on staff strength? I think this is an issue that has to be looked at very carefully because cutting down on staff strength obviously in the short term maybe there is a reason for doing that but in the long term you will still need that workforce actually to continue developmental efforts. I think it is something the JV partners need to look at very carefully. Indigenous companies are springing up amid dwindling resources, what do you think is the best way for them to maximise resources in the light of the squeeze in cash? What I am very happy about is that indigenous companies are learning very fast. Over the last few years we have seen the progress made in the industry and they are learning very fast. They are learning to adapt to the situation and I am sure they will be able to situate themselves properly for the challenges ahead. How is NNPC restructuring to adapt to the challenges?Well, with NNPC we have seen this for a long time because as a national oil company some of these challenges fortunately for us we are able to see much clearer than others do. At NNPC, we are looking at all facets of our business to adapt to these challenges.In the light of this, do you think the PIB will be passed by this National Assembly? Certainly, anybody I talk to - I was talking with the National Assembly the other day, I talked to many other people - everybody is excited about the passage of the PIB. Unfortunately we got stuck somewhere but I believe we are going to overcome it because it is a reality that we must face.What gives you confidence that the PIB will be passed just a couple of months to the end of this National Assembly? The Nigerian spirit, it is there any time in our daily affairs in Nigeria. The Nigerian spirit is very strong and once we know that something is the right thing to do, you find out that no matter what the differences we may face at the end of the day we will pay that bill. Are we on the same page in believing that there is something good in this PIB? Absolutely, because everybody I have talked to, knows that it is a positive thing that has to be done. It is going to bring a lot of efforts to what we are trying to do in transforming this industry. Nobody is opposed to that, I think it is just a question of timing and the manner in which it is done but I believe that it is going to be done.
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