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Empowering communities, people key to ensuring stability in energy sector – Seplat

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Seplat Energy Plc, leading Nigerian independent energy company, says the execution of corporate social investment (CSI) programmes in oil and gas producing communities as well as empowerment of their people is capable of promoting stability in the energy sector and ensuring security of critical national assets.   

Mr. Samson Ezugworie, Chief Operating Officer, Seplat Energy, said this during the Society of Petroleum  Engineers Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum (SPE OLEF) 2024 organised by SPE Nigeria Council in Abuja recently. The theme of this year’s SPE OLEF is Stability in the Energy Sector: Integrated Strategies for Infrastructure, Transportation and Security.

Ezugworie, who spoke during the Energy Forum Discussion Session, said operators and the energy industry at large must refocus on sustainability and think long-term. “In tackling security and ensuring stability in our industry, we must “think sustainability” and operate responsibly. In doing this, we must collaborate; as we can impact our people and communities more collaboratively,” the Seplat Energy COO advised.

Identifying the various social investment programmes executed by Seplat Energy yearly in communities where it has operations, Ezugworie said health, educational, infrastructural and skills/knowledge interventions are executed as part and parcel of business strategy, which is in tune with Seplat Energy’s sustainability journey. Seplat Energy also executes projects targeted at solving energy problems for the communities and increasing energy access for the people. “Operators should be very intentional about these interventions. They don’t come by chance. The idea is to continue to service our partnership with our communities,” he added.

“If you keep people empowered and included, they will find less reasons to be agitated or violent. Of course, they will become your partners and show willingness to work with you for the common good of all,” Ezugworie added.

He commended the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the government for their efforts in securing the oil and gas assets in the country, adding that there are opportunities to do more to further ensure a more stable industry. Particularly, Ezugworie commended the government for the recently signed three Executive Orders on the oil and gas sector, identifying the action as a needed step in the right direction.

Identifying investment inflows in the energy sector as also critical in driving stability, the Seplat Energy boss said the company’s ANOH gas plant, which achieved mechanical completion in December 2023, will be a major game changer. First gas from the ANOH plant is expected this year, which will make Seplat Energy a leading domestic supplier of gas. The ANOH gas plant will provide feedstock for the OB3 pipeline nearing completion.

He also identified the divestment programmes of the international oil companies (IOC) as also key in the quest to stabilise the country’s oil and gas sector, saying successful completion of the programmes are capable of creating and retaining more value for the industry and the Nigerian economy at large as is evident in success stories of Seplat Energy and other indigenous operators that have recorded giant strides over the years.

Stressing the need for Nigeria to secure its critical national assets like oil and gas pipelines, Ezugworie said pipeline inspections via sensors, drones and robots, amongst others, are essential. Despite the fact that these technologies can detect and locate defects, anomalies, and threats in real time, and provide data and feedback for maintenance and repair, Ezugworie said there is the need for improved response time to actually address the challenges.

He added: “If you look at what the NNPCL is doing today to combat oil theft, you will see that the journey has already started. The platforms have been built for the collaboration among stakeholders to thrive. But we still see some of these threats recurring.

“In the area of collaboration, we need to improve more when it comes to intelligence sharing. Strong collaboration between government agencies is also very key. The relationship between these government agencies should be very cordial to boost response time when the need arises. Implementing these strategies will significantly improve collaboration between security agencies and industry stakeholders in Nigeria, leading to better intelligence sharing, coordinated response efforts, and enhanced security outcomes.”

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