The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, says Nigeria must bring down the cost of production of its crude oil as the country is currently a laughing stock in the way it runs business in the oil and gas sector.

The implementation of the proposed reduction of the federal government’s equity holding in the joint ventures in the oil industry is one of the priorities of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

Sylva, who disclosed this in Lagos on Friday, enumerated his Ministry deliverables he would want the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other departments and agencies under his watch to emulate.

The Minister was speaking at the opening of a two-day Next Level Strategic retreat for Directors of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Heads of Agencies under his supervision.

The priority areas the Minister hopes to focus his attention on include reduction of Federal Government’s equity stakes in the six Joint Ventures (JV) to 40 per cent and curbing petroleum products cross border leakages.

Other priorities include completion of gas flares commercialisation; increasing crude oil production to three million barrels per day and effecting the reduction in the cost of crude oil production by at least 5 per cent.

Currently, the NNPC holds about 60 per cent equity in all the joint venture operating agreements in the oil and gas industry, except the one operated with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), where it controls 55 per cent stake.

The other joint venture operations include the ones operated with Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Total Exploration And Production (E&P) Nigeria Limited, and Seplat Petroleum Development Company.

The NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, said in a statement in Abuja that other priority areas identified by the Minister included an aggressive promotion of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the promotion of inland basin exploration activities by the NNPC.

Also, he spoke of the promotion of deep offshore exploration activities; increased collaboration with the private sector to aggressively increase domestic refining capacity, and working to support Mr. President in his determination to achieve his target of raising millions of Nigerians out of poverty via job creation.

Ughamadu said the minister told heads of the agencies that at end of the retreat they would be required to collectively sign an undertaking to deliver on the set tasks and targets.

He said the Minister also challenged the officials to ensure they executed the mandate with all the seriousness it deserves.

The NNPC spokesperson said the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, in his speech, expressed the readiness of the corporation to align with the spirit and letter behind the key priorities areas.

As the main enabler of the Nigerian economy, Kyari said the NNPC would work with other agencies of the Ministry to make the outlined aspirations a dream come true.

He said the coming of Sylva as the Minister would engender high level Inter agencies-collaboration across all tiers of the sector.

Others who spoke during the meeting included heads of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), the Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR), and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), among others.

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