By Uche Usim

Those who call him the rescuer of the national oil firm may have a good reason for doing so. Mallam Mele Kyari, Group Chief Operating Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, supervised the radical transformation of the corporation from a full-fledged government entity that operated at a loss for 44 years, to a profit-making, private sector-tailored outfit. 

A geologist by training, Kyari joined NNPC in 1991 and served in various capacities until he was appointed the 19th Group Managing Director of the Corporation in July 2019. 

Aside from being a Fellow of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, he is also Nigeria’s Representative to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries; and the Economic Commission Board.

Kyari successfully managed the Direct Sales and Direct Purchase arrangement of petroleum products to ensure energy security. He also championed Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and Open Government Partnership principles; promoted the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act; declared the Corporation’s first profit in her 44 years; and resolved the decade-long disputes to unlock the deepwater. 

Furthermore, he introduced cost discipline, rehabilitating ailing refineries and other critical downstream infrastructure; deepened domestic gas utilisation and encouraged public disclosure of NNPC accounts.

Other achievements include rallying shareholders to take the Final Investment Decision for NLNG Train 7, transforming the Corporation to a world-class organisation and leading concerted efforts in driving environmental policies for cleaner energy.  

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On June 15, 2021, the ground-breaking ceremony of the NLNG Train 7 Project was conducted signalling the commencement of construction work on the project. NNPC also successfully flagged-off the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project on June 30, 2020. The project is an integral part of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline with a capacity to transport about 2.2billion cubic feet of gas per day.   

Mallam Kyari also led the Corporation to achieve a $300 million reduction in the cost of the AKK Gas Pipeline contract via contract renegotiation from the initial $2.8billion. 

Additional major stride in the gas sector was witnessed in 2020 with the commissioning of the Oredo Integrated Gas Handling Facility and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Storage and Dispensing Unit. 

The facilities are wholly owned and constructed by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company to address domestic gas supply challenges. The facilities currently deliver over 200 million standard cubic feet of dry gas per day and 330 metric tons of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas) which is equivalent to 16 units of 20 tons LPG trucks per day into the domestic market. 

On 22 April, 2021, Kyari-led NNPC executed a Gas Development Agreement for the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 143 with its partner, Sterling Oil Exploration and Production Company. The project will boost the nation’s gas production by 1.2trillion cubic feet. At present, major work is being done in the rehabilitation and overhauling of the refineries for optimal result. It is expected that the completion of this exercise, in phases, would change the trajectory in the supply chain of Petroleum products in the country. 

The fight against oil theft, which Kyari was waged relentlessly with the engagement of a private security outfit to monitor pipelines, has been yielding results, with Nigeria’s crude oil production rising to 1.5 million barrels per day.