Aliko Dangote, president, Dangote Group and Tony Elumelu, chairman, Heirs Holdings, both guest speakers at the 32nd Annual International Conference of the National Association of Petroleum Explorationists in Lagos recently, canvassed for more indigenous participation in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Both agreed that the involvement of indigenous institutions and players, would augur well for the economy and also called for a deliberate and systematic approach to the involvement of Nigerian entrepreneurs in the oil and gas industry.
Elumelu in his address said, “I was encouraged to come into the oil and gas industry by someone who believes deeply in Nigerian local capacity.” He explained that localisation will impact positively on the sector just like it happened with banking. “Many years ago it was the general belief that only expatriates could own and run banks in Nigeria. Today, however, the top five banks are owned and run indigenously and we need for the same to happen in the oil and gas sector,” he said.
The seasoned entrepreneur, whose pan-African investment company has its footprints in the financial services, oil and gas, health care, power and hospitality sectors, revealed that he has ambitious plans in the oil and gas industry, disclosing that he is looking forward to Nigeria having the capacity to refine its crude on its own shores.
He said Tenoil Petroleum and Energy Services was set up as a platform to manage and operate Heirs Holdings investments across the energy value chain, as well as the extractive minerals sector. “Gas remains a hindrance to our economic development yet we have it in abundance. Efficient utilisation of our gas resources is important if we want to create employment, fix the economy, send our children to school and generally make things work,” Elumelu said.
Dangote, on his part emphasised the importance of policy and regulation in the quest to indigenize the sector. He also harped on the need for capacity building and explained that his company’s petro-chemical plant in the Lekki free trade zone in Lagos, when completed by 2017, will employ thousands of Nigerians and turn the country into a net exporter of petroleum products.
He also disclosed that when he set up Dangote Cement in 2007, the cement industry had little local capacity but that has since changed with indigenous players now having the dominant market share in the Nigerian cement industry.