Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has frowned against actions and practices that deprive the state of its interests and benefits in oil and gas deals.
The Governor spoke while declaring open the 8th Practical Nigerian Content Forum with the theme: “Driving Economic Development and Sustainability” at the Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, Government House in Yenagoa.
A statement on Wednesday, by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, noted that, the annual seminar was sponsored by the state government, the Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board (NCMDB) and other stakeholders.
Governor Dickson was said to have decried a situation where major oil and gas deals are concluded in faraway places with little or no consideration for the interest of oil producing communities even as the state plays host to the headquarters of the Board.
He reiterated the need for oil majors to respect and obey the Local Content Act by relocating their headquarters to Bayelsa where most of them carry out a greater part of their businesses.
The Governor, however, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government and other stakeholders for their efforts towards completing the construction of the NCMDB headquarters project in Yenagoa.
His words, “The idea of local content is a great one, and we should not let it down. We are grateful that the Federal Government created the NCMDB with its headquarters in Bayelsa where the story of oil and gas started.
“We hope that by the time that wonderful edifice is completed and put to use, we will see more oil and gas deals being concluded in the great state of Bayelsa and that will add to the local economy.
“However, we frown at the current situation where most of these mega deals are concluded in faraway places.
“When you talk of local content, we have to be completely local. It means oil producing companies have to stay here, open their offices and interface more directly and robustly with the communities, state government and the NCMDB.
“Just like Houston is the oil and gas capital of the world, we tell everybody whether they like to hear it or not, that Bayelsa is the oil and gas capital of Nigeria and of Africa.
“So we are always appreciative when major conferences and seminars like this take place in Bayelsa because we take it as a recognition of our historic contribution, which a number of people may want to conveniently forget. So we thank you for bringing back this Practical Nigerian Content seminar back to Bayelsa.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, acknowledged the role NCMDB is playing in adding value to the nation’s hydrocarbon resources as well as supporting investors seeking to establish modular refineries in the country.
Represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, the Minister described the conference as a veritable platform for industry stakeholders to assess the achievements of the Nigerian Content Act, its successes, challenges and new frontiers of possible improvements.
Delivering a keynote address, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru assured the NCMDB of its readiness for collaboration to promote the development and commercialization of home-grown technology.
Dr. Baru also reaffirmed NNPC’s commitment to compliance with the provisions of the Nigerian Content Act to increase in-country value addition and support job creation.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the NCMDB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, said the Board was currently implementing a 10-year strategic roadmap hinged on the five pillars of technical capability development, compliance and enforcement, enabling business environment, organising capacity as well as sectoral and regional market linkages.
According to Wabote, the Board would relocate to its 17-storey headquarters office in Yenagoa in the first quarter of next year and “operationalize the building with the right facility management contract.”