The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has launched the “Operation White” project geared toward ensuring transparency and accountability of petroleum product supply and distribution in Nigeria.
Sylva, represented by the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Mr Ahmed Boboi, said in Lagos on Friday that the essence was to entrench energy security.
He said it would also deepen the drive for transparency in the downstream operations.
Sylva said the strategic initiative was aimed at deploying adequate measures in ensuring that all molecules of regulated petroleum products imported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were well accounted for and utilised.
“NNPC will continue to record excellent performance in product supply and distribution to the nation.
“It is doing what it is supposed to do as supplier of last resort, but the reality is the nation bears a great cost in terms of absorbing the shocks of differences in cost.
“It is critical that all hands be put on deck to ensure that every molecule of product imported into this country is utilised within the borders of this nation for the benefit of Nigerian populace.
“This is a national imperative and a core thrust of Mr President’s mandate for leadership of the oil and gas industry.
“The task for us is to ensure that the petroleum products supply and distribution chain in Nigeria is completely devoid of illicit practices,” the minister said.
He said these include: oil theft, diversion and smuggling of petroleum products, which constitute economic sabotage and haemorrhage of the national revenue through high cost of under recovery.
“To do this certainly requires diligence, commitment, courage and robust partnership amongst various downstream stakeholders.
“There is also a dire need to instill an improved culture of transparency, accountability and efficiency in the industry, streamline our operations along best practices by championing and implementing strategic reforms at every layer of the supply and distribution chain.
“If we are able to plug the leakages, and tighten all loose ends, we are convinced that we can do, even more with the little that we are getting at this moment of modest oil prices than we did in the time of plenty.
“This administration is committed to placing the oil and gas sector on the trajectory of growth.
“It is my firm belief that all the initiatives contained in our 10 key priority areas will put the petroleum sector on the path of robust growth,” he said.
Sylva further expressed optimism that the gains of the operation “White Project” would reduce the inflated product consumption figure and ultimately reduce the subsidy wage bill.
Also, Malam Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, charged the team to deliver on the onerous national assignment of controlling leakages of petroleum products, especially petrol.
Kyari, represented by the Chief Finance Officer of NNPC, Mr Umar Ajiya, said the team had no option than to succeed.
He said that the team would monitor and track every molecule of petroleum products imported into the country and follow it through to the pump.
According to him, NNPC is poised to support the Federal Government in its quest to guarantee energy security for the country.
“The selection of ‘Operation White’ team was very thorough and people of great competence and high level of integrity were head-hunted for this national assignment.
“Today, we are good to go and we will see our transaction end-to-end as it is the case in other countries.
“We are poised to support the minister to ensure that energy security is guaranteed for our dear country so that our principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, will be proud of us,” Kyari said.
He encouraged the team members to deliver on the national assignment with a deep sense of patriotism and excellence.
Kyari pledged that the project would monitor and track the entire movement of petroleum products and enshrine visible transparency across the value chain.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr Bala Wunti, said adequate institutional and governance structure of the team’s operations had been put in place.
Wunti said members of the team were drawn from the NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), PEF, as well as the Department of State Security (DSS).
Commenting, Mr Francis Peters, Deputy CEO, Aiteo Energy Resources Ltd., said the company was delighted to host the project, which he described as a significant intervention of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC group.
“As strategic infrastructure partners, the Aiteo Energy Resources Ltd. lauds this initiative aimed at deploying adequate measures in ensuring that all regulated petroleum products imported by NNPC were well accounted for and utilised.
“We will continue to be an industry benchmark for performance in product supply and distribution to Nigeria,” Peters said.
He said this would further strengthen the NNPC vision of energy and petroleum products security and sustainability, especially throughout the festive season.