Benedict Peters March 1, 2017

No shortage of ambition at Nigeria Energy Week - but what of the challenges ahead?

It is clear that Nigeria's Petroleum Minister, Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu is a man undeterred by adversity. But what sets him apart is that, in spite of his bold ambitions for the oil sector, he is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge.

That challenge is being explored in detail this week, where the Nigeria Oil and Gas Forum (NOG) is meeting for the first time in nearly two years. We have heard encouraging contributions by participants in both the business and regulatory spheres, but today all eyes were on Dr Kachikwu as he delivered his keynote address to the largest gathering of oil and gas exhibitors in Africa.

Speaking to a capacity crowd in Abuja, Dr Kachikwu laid out his much-anticipated vision for the sector. Moving fluidly across subjects specific and general, the Petroleum Minister covered immediate needs, like a fiscal regime that promotes investment, competitiveness and cost efficiency, alongside broader reforms like the fast-tracking of private-sector led downstream infrastructure development and full deregulation of that market competition for greater competition and efficiency.

Looking back over the progress the Buhari government has made in the sector, Dr Kachikwu rightly celebrated successful efforts to counter militant vandalism, which in 2016 brought Nigeria's oil output to a debilitating 1.3 million barrels per day, a fraction off the lowest level ever witnessed. I have experienced first-hand the militant violence that wreaks havoc in the communities in which our businesses operate and I know from personal experience its particularly disruptive effect on production that threatens to bring Nigeria to its knees. Yet government action has brought real progress, tempered with the knowledge that there is still more to do to encourage peace and economic prosperity in the Niger Delta.

Read the full opinion piece here