**Urges Investors to Set up Refinery in A/Ibom
By Dipo Olowookere
Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Maikanti Kacalla Baru, has engaged investors on the need to establish a refinery in Akwa Ibom State.
Speaking at a two-day PENGASSAN Triennial Retreat/Synergy workshop held in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, Mr Baru said the state was well-positioned geographically to have a refinery.
According to him, “Investors have been coming to us and I have seen one that is quite promising. It is in this light that I encouraged these investors to come and see the state government and discuss.”
He explained that although the preferred location of the investors was not Akwa Ibom State, but he had convinced them to consider establishing the refinery there, to leverage, especially on the state’s deep coastline.
The GMD called on the Akwa Ibom State government to explore partnership opportunities provided by investors towards establishing the refinery in the state.
Speaking further at the opening of the two-day event in Uyo, Mr Baru called on industry players to brace up for change in the sector.
He stressed that the current state of the international energy market, the urgent need to rehabilitate the nation’s refineries as well as the Petroleum Industry (Governance) Bill currently being considered by the National Assembly, were dire challenges, necessitating that the industry charts a new course
Mr Baru emphasized that navigating these challenges successfully required strong, purposeful and focused leadership from stakeholders in an industry where changing regulatory and macroeconomic realities are imminent.
He used the opportunity of the event to commend the Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) for their role in ensuring harmony in the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry, saying this has helped stabilize petroleum products supply across the country.
“I would like to appreciate the support given to us by the two unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG. You have over the years exhibited high level of maturity and partnership.
“This is evident in your pragmatic approach to issues, your support during difficult times as well as strategic engagement with industry stakeholders which has not only guaranteed industrial peace and harmony, but has also ensured the stable supply of petroleum products across the country,” Mr Baru stated.
He assured that NNPC management would continue to accord priority to staff welfare and ensure that staff are trained to face the current realities of the industry.
The GMD, who congratulated PENGASSAN for a successful delegates’ conference, also urged them to chart a new course for the Union and the Oil and Gas Industry that is hinged on greater collaboration for improved productivity and innovative ideas towards growth and development.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, said the state government had been working hard towards attracting private investors to build a refinery in the state.
Mr Emmanuel, who was represented at the occasion by one of his top special advisers, Pastor Umoh Bassey, urged oil companies in the country to deploy more resources to sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects in their host communities, as he further extolled the strategic role of PENGASSAN in moving the nation’s economy forward.
Mr Emmanuel challenged the industry unions to partner with their employers in the area of capacity building for the betterment of the industry.
In his welcome address, the National President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Francis Johnson, pledged the oil workers’ union commitment to remain “true partners of progress in the nation’s Oil & Gas Industry.”
The two-day retreat, which has as its theme “Leadership and Team Building for Change in Trade Union Administration“, attracted PENGASSAN members from various NNPC locations nationwide.
It is expected to provide a platform for forging relationships and strategies for effective collaboration between the unions and other partners towards repositioning the industry for brighter future.
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