Nigeria pushing for closure on divestment issues, Tinubu tells ExxonMobil boss


President Bola Tinubu said on Tuesday that the three Executive Orders on oil and gas reforms, which he signed, will make Nigeria’s petroleum sector globally competitive.

The president also said Nigeria was going through a lot of reforms and that the nation was pushing for closure on divestment issues.

In a statement on Tuesday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, the President made this affirmation during a meeting with a delegation from ExxonMobil Upstream Company, led by its President, Liam Mallon.

President Tinubu signed new executive orders designed to improve the investment climate and position Nigeria as the premier destination for oil and gas investments in Africa.

The three Executive Orders, which became effective from February 28, 2024, are: Oil and Gas Companies (Tax Incentives, Exemption, Remission, etc.) Order, 2024; Presidential Directive on Local Content Compliance Requirements, 2024; and the Presidential Directive on Reduction of Petroleum Sector Contracting Costs and Timelines.

He emphasized that these reforms will ensure that no oil company encounters unnecessary challenges in the country.

The statement read “President Tinubu also assured the ExxonMobil delegation that the Federal Government is committed to resolving the divestment issues between the company and Seplat Energy, which are currently under litigation.

“We have been pushing for closure on divestment issues, and I believe the other party, Seplat, is open to this.

“The President commended the company for its show of commitment to environmental protection in Nigeria, noting its efforts in reducing gas flaring in the country.”

“Nigeria is going through a lot of reforms, and we have been navigating the leadership quarters carefully to ensure that we achieve a win-win situation for all parties and attract more investments,” President Tinubu said.

According to the statement, the President praised ExxonMobil as a valuable partner in Nigeria’s development over the decades and encouraged the company to continue its commitment to supporting the success of his administration.

It read in part “We are close enough to be fair and blunt with you, and we are not afraid to hear from you on better options and recommendations for the growth of the industry in Nigeria,” the President said.

The meeting, as contained in the statement also attended by Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), and Ekperikpe Ekpo, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), discussed issues such as divestment, decommissioning, and abandonment as regards the company.

“Mr. President has given a clear directive to the NNPC GCEO and I to resolve the issue of divestment, and we are doing whatever we can to achieve that,” Lokpobiri stated.

Regarding decommissioning and abandonment in the oil industry, Lokpobiri mentioned that the ministry is addressing the issue in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and international best practices.

The statement read “The reforms driven by the three Executive Orders will ensure that companies operating in Nigeria have the best environment to continue making their investments and that no company will seek to leave Nigeria.

Liam Mallon, the President of ExxonMobil Upstream Company, expressed his appreciation for the support and reassurances provided by the Nigerian government and pledged the company’s long-term commitment to the country’s energy sector.

He also praised President Tinubu for his courage and determination to implement bold reforms within his first year in office.

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