Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, has appointed Gbite Adeniji, a widely respected private sector oil and gas lawyer, as the new Senior Technical Adviser, Upstream &Gas. He has also appointed Tim Okon, former Group Coordinator, Corporate Planning & Strategy at the Nigerian state hydrocarbon company, NNPC, as Special Adviser on Fiscal Strategy in the Ministry of Petroleum.
The two are to provide the intellectual grounding for policy thinking and execution and help build capacity in a ministry that has nothing to vet the proposals coming from NNPC and (industry regulator) DPR.
Kachikwu, a Harvard trained lawyer and former Vice President at ExxonMobil, has been widely seen as a sitting duck for tired proposals from the old guard at the NNPC, by whom he is surrounded. “He has shown enthusiasm for reforms and has been far more transparent”, says Sam Ojekomo, an African oil and gas analyst based in Johannesburg, “but he has not been able to systematically address any of the fundamental issues, from natural gas availability through NPDC bottlenecks to refinery overhaul and overall accountability”.
Okon and Adeniji are especially expected to work on the structural institutional reforms that are considered now urgent in the Ministry; to use policy to move the industry, and as such the economy, in a such a direction that it is less reliant on crude oil and has the ability to deepen the GDP through gas. A key part of the reform is the passage of the four bills that are meant to replace the Petroleum Industry Bill. The first of them, which will soon be presented at the National Assembly, is the Petroleum Industry Governance and Institutional Framework Bill”.
Until his removal from NNPC in late 2015, Okon was in charge of developing long range strategic options for the oil and gas industry. In his nine years at the corporation he provided technical advice on the oil and gas industry reform programme of the government (OGIC) and led the inter-agency technical review team on government memorandum on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). He also managed NNPC’s transformation programme as director of transformation. Prior to his joining NNPC, Okon was General Manager Development Planning for Mobil Producing Nigeria, Lagos. He joined Mobil Producing Nigeria in 1978 as a Geophysicist.
Adeniji was a senior consultant at the World Bank [Oil, Gas, Chemicals & Mining Department] in Washington, D.C who has devoted substantial part of his practice to the Nigerian Gas Master plan – an initiative for the development of the domestic gas sector in Nigeria. He has prepared regulatory instruments such as the National Gas Policy document, a Downstream Gas Bill, the National Domestic Gas Supply and Pricing Policy and the National Domestic Gas Supply and Pricing Regulations.
He also assisted with the development of the commercial framework for wholesale gas supply to domestic gas utilization projects. He advised on the establishment of the Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria, led the drafting of the model Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement, Escrow Agreement and Gas Transmission Agreement for wholesale gas transactions in the Nigerian domestic gas sector, assisted with the negotiations for the first World Bank Partial Risk (“PRG”) Guarantee program for Nigeria and prepared related documentation for the application of the PRG for gas supply to state-owned power plants.