Pat Maseli, head of the Upstream Monitoring and Regulation at the Department of Petroleum Resources, Nigeria’s hydrocarbon regulatory agency, says she intends to drive improvement in approval turnaround time in her department.
Maseli took up the job six months ago; a deputy director’s role and one with significant responsibilities.
The DPR processes applications for various Licences, Permits and Approvals across the entire Oil and Gas value chain in Africa’s largest hydrocarbon producing country. The permits and approvals range from Oil Exploration Licence (OEL) to Lubricant Retailers Licence. Mrs. Maseli’s department is the most influential of the six departments in that its activity delivers acreage renewals, approves field development plans and grants permits to seismic, drilling and well intervention, among other upstream activities. It serves as the gatekeeper to the all-important “Ministerial consent”, without which a farm in by any investor into an awarded acreage cannot be concluded.
“All Companies requesting approvals would have to apply early enough and ensure all the required are provided in line with provisions of the Petroleum Act and applicable regulations rather than stampeding the Department with ‘urgent’ requests every now and then”, she said in a high profile interview, published in NAPE News, an organ of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists.
“As a proactive regulator”, Maseli explains, “the DPR is expanding its capacity both human and technological to supervise the Industry more effectively. In evaluating applications and granting licences, permits and approvals, they should utilise appropriate tools to validate and review submissions from companies”.
“The Department, as the technical arm of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, does a lot of work at the back end and its staff are, most often than not, stretched to the limit”, Maseli avers. “The DPR provides technical inputs into development of policies carry out bid-round activities, mediate to resolve conflicts between companies”.
It is why she is keen on training and retraining: “My focus is to expose staff to state-of-the-art tools, like those used by the Industry and enhance their capacity to a level superior to their industry counterparts.
“For me, every Geologist, Geophysicist or Engineer should be able to utilise modern tools for evaluation, interpretation and processing of sub-surface data”.
Maseli, who entered the hydrocarbon industry as a Youth Corper (the mandatory one year post graduation service) in NNPC 35 years ago, is the first woman to get to that position. She admits to the journal that she has broken the ceiling into multiple shards of glass at the agency, but argues that women “have only scratched the surface”, in reaching upper management in the Nigerian oil industry.
“There are more glass ceilings to be broken. I want to see more women in key positions in the oil industry. We are yet to have a female GGM in NAPIMS, (the investment arm of the NNPC, the state hydrocarbon company), a female Director of DPR and a female Group Managing Director in NNPC. These three strategic positions have been occupied by men since inception of the oil industry. Until this is achieved, there are more glass ceilings to be broken, and I would like to use this medium to appeal to Government to consider the female folks with wealth of experience and right competencies to be appointed to those positions. Government should ‘search and shall find’ worthy women to be appointed to key positions in the sector”.