He is an intelligent, resourceful and astute administrator with professional competence. This amiable man of repute has lent his experience in various facets of oil and gas industry and by so doing carved a niche in the industry.
The new Managing Director, Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemicals Company, (KRPC), and Managing Director, Nigerian Gas Company, (NGC), Alhaji Saidu Aliyu Muhammed is a force to be reckoned with in the Oil and Gas industry as his professional experience leaves no one in doubt as to his ability to helping to move the sector forward. That the President, Nigerian Gas Association’s 31yrs of successful management in the downstream sector of the Petroleum Industry would help drive forth the needed transformation programme of the sector.
In this piece, the fire brand Managing Director, had during a workshop organized by the KRPC for energy correspondents in Kano with the theme, “Managing Information in the Oil and Gas Industry”, opened up on some of the sector’s activities and how far it is trying to keep abreast with the dreams and aspirations of Nigerians. He had in his brief captured on reasons for the sector’s usual turn around maintenance programme as well as giving a picture as to what the company is doing on the worrying state of environmental pollution being experienced as a result of gas flaring which he happily informed is at its reduction level as some of these gasses are now converted into maximum utilization. All things being equal, produce from gas he said could become a source of revenue for the nation. Zainab Tanimu of Top Celebrities Magazine brings to you this illuminating interactive revelation.
Could you give us an idea of what the turnaround maintenance programme of the KRPC plants cost?
I don’t have any cost. It is a kind of maintenance culture that is on-going and in our maintenance programme, we just declare it as part and parcel of our operational cost. So, it is not money that is earmarked somewhere and waiting for rehabilitation period. No. Considering a 30yrs old plant, we must introduce one certain way or the other to keep it functioning. Thus, the aspiration to keep the plant running at a particular level. We have kept the plants running despite all challenges and as we go ahead doing maintenance programme, we keep on getting more and more efficiency to as much as 80% and eventually 100%. So, maintenance is part of our operational cost. No special money earmarked for it.
Your profile shows that you have a lot of experience in the gas sector and you are also the president of Nigerian gas association. One thing people complain about the oil and gas sector is flaring. How do you think Nigeria can help convert its gas into resources rather than flaring it?
Yes, I have been doing it for the past 30 years and therefore competent to talk about it. Gas flaring I would gladly say is coming down. About six years ago, we were flaring as much as 60% from what we produce but today that has gone down to as low as 15%. But let me clarify. When we say we produce, what we flair is gas that comes with the oil and as long as we produce the oil, we must get rid of the gas before you package the oil. And if you don’t have need for the gas, you can’t do otherwise than to flare it for environmental safety. So that gas produced that is called ‘associated gas’ is the one we are referring to when we say certain percentage of it is there and certain percentage of it is used. But today, the utilization of that percentage of gas has risen to as much as 60% . So, the flairs are going down but then there are flairs that must be burnt every moment because there is a level where you cannot economically cover the gas and then of course, it doesn’t make any sense, so we just flair it.
Taking into cognizance some of the multi – projects to be embarked on especially in the power sector using gas, and knowing fully well that Nigeria is not an oil company but gas company, could you give us a clue as to what the federal government is doing to build a sustainable gas sector that would provide electricity to our industries and the populace?
Because the gas is all over the Niger Delta and the terrain is so high, we must put infrastructure and such infrastructure is very costly but nevertheless, we have to do what we are supposed to do. And for me to give you an impression of what government has done so far in the last four years, we were at a level where the domestic gas utilization was only about 2500 megawatts. But today, within this three years, we have tripled that production. But then the yearning demand is always there. More power plants are coming up and every power plant that comes needs more gas and the ‘gas chase’ is not only one spot. The gas has to be sourced, some certain activities come to play, like we have to build wells, we produce the gas and we treat it and then you lay kilometers of transmission pipes to deliver the gas and eventually at the terminal point you still face some difficulties. All these chains are developments that don’t just avail individuals. Typical installation of a gas capillary would take you nothing less than 24mts. So, as the power plants were coming out, initially, there was mis- alignment between the power sector and the gas sector in the sense that the power plants were just springing up without really taking the gas people on board. And in some instances where the gas people are taken on board, you find that they have the gas but the power plant is not there. So, that misalignment has been corrected and what is happening today is the laying of infrastructure to link up to all the power plants. And I would state categorically that there is no existing power plant today that is not linked with a gas pipe line.
One important thing to note is that gas is a commodity that you sell before you even produce it. What I mean by that is that you have to have contact in place with the buyer before you produce it. And such commercial frame work often takes a very long time and that is what is delaying some of the developments of the projects themselves but then by the end of this year, I believe with the initiative that is going on we would have full satisfaction that of gas requirement particularly for the power sector. So what the government is doing, we are trying to make sure that development in the domestic market is fully harnessed. One, making sure that the power sector is alive, two, the industries have all they require. Thirdly, and the most important thing is the bordering question of, ‘what are you doing to turn this gas to be something else’?
This is why the government is trying to make sure that we have industrial areas earmarked for this purpose. This government cannot do it alone. Private sectors are in this field. Many people are establishing fertilizers plants and they are all going to be using gas. And the cement plants are equally contributing a lot as per the gas usage and as we all know; we are self-sufficient today in cement. The next thing is to begin to import it. Also, to ensure that we have the regional integrity in terms of energy needs, the governments of Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Ghana set out some 10years ago to form West African Gas Pipeline Project which eventually came up and as we speak today, Nigerian gas is being bought there as well.