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2024 OLEF: Where Energy Security meets Transformative Strategies

2024 OLEF: Where Energy Security meets Transformative Strategies

By Ese Ufuoma

Industry leaders, policymakers, and professionals converged at the Petroleum Technology Development Fund Tower, Abuja for the Thirty-third Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum (OLEF), organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Nigeria Council.

The Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum, an SPE NC flagship event debuted in 1991 and it focuses on contributing to Nigeria’s oil and gas industry policy development in commemoration of the first commercial oil discovery in Nigeria by Shell Darcy at Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, in 1956.

The platform enables interaction between stakeholders from the government, regulatory agencies, and heads of industry at all levels as well as the academic world. With the theme: “Stability in the Energy Sector: Integrated Strategies for Infrastructure, Transportation, and Security”, OLEF has once again brought to the fore, its positioning in shaping policies, fostering collaboration and driving positive change within Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

At its core, the event serves as a crucible for the formulation and refinement of policies that chart the course for the industry’s future trajectory. Through robust dialogue, informed debate and the exchange of best practices, attendees collectively shape the regulatory frameworks and legislative initiatives that govern operations within the sector. This process of policy development is not merely academic but has real-world implications, influencing investment decisions, operational strategies, and the overall direction of the industry.

Equally vital is the role of the Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum in fostering alliances among diverse stakeholders. In an industry as complex and multifaceted as oil and gas, partnership is not merely desirable but essential for progress. This forum provides a neutral ground where representatives from government agencies, private enterprises, academic institutions, and civil society can come together to pool their expertise, share insights, and forge partnerships that transcend organizational boundaries. By fostering a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, the event cultivates an ecosystem of innovation and collective problem-solving, where synergies are harnessed and collective action is galvanized towards common goals.

Most importantly, the Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum serves as a catalyst for transformative change within the oil and gas sector. In an era characterized by rapid technological advancements, shifting geopolitical dynamics, and growing environmental concerns, the need for innovation and adaptation has never been greater. This year’s  event provided a platform for thought leaders to showcase cutting-edge technologies, innovative business models, and forward-thinking strategies that have the potential to revolutionize the industry. By casting a spotlight on emerging trends and disruptive innovations, the event inspired participants to challenge the status quo, embrace change, and chart a course towards a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

In essence, the annual Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum transcend its status as a mere conference to become a dynamic force for positive change within the oil and gas sector. By shaping policies, fostering collaboration, and driving transformative change, it stands as a beacon of hope and progress in an industry grappling with unprecedented challenges and opportunities.

In his welcome address, the Chairman of SPE, Nigeria Council, Mr. Salahuddeen M. Tahir, underscored the role of energy in powering essential services that underpin modern society. From transportation and electricity generation to healthcare and national security, energy serves as the lifeblood of our interconnected world. Tahir emphasised the need for stability in the energy sector to ensure economic growth, national security, and environmental sustainability. He stressed the importance of infrastructure investment, highlighting its role in ensuring a reliable and efficient energy supply chain.

Tahir’s words resonated deeply as he emphasized the indispensable role of energy in safeguarding the health and well-being of communities, powering critical medical services that save lives and enhance quality of life. Moreover, he astutely highlighted the intrinsic connection between energy security and national security, emphasizing that a stable energy supply is not just a matter of convenience but a fundamental pillar of sovereignty and resilience in the face of geopolitical uncertainties.

Hitherto, amidst this recognition of the myriad benefits conferred by energy, Tahir did not shy away from confronting the stark realities of the current energy landscape. With unwavering resolve, he called for championing the imperative of stability within the energy sector, recognizing it as a fulcrum for sustained economic growth, national security, and environmental sustainability. His words echoed with a sense of urgency, reminding stakeholders that the stakes could not be higher as the struggle continues with the twin challenges of climate change and energy access.

Central to Tahir’s message was the important role of infrastructure investment in fortifying the efficiency of the energy supply chain. With clarity and conviction, he emphasized that infrastructure is not merely a collection of concrete and steel but the very backbone upon which the energy future rests. From pipelines and power plants to storage facilities and distribution networks, each component plays a critical role in ensuring a reliable and efficient flow of energy to consumers.

Tahir’s welcome address served as a clarion call to action, urging stakeholders to unite in a common cause to build a more secure, sustainable, and equitable energy future.

Additionally, transportation emerged as a critical aspect of the energy sector during the keynote address delivered by Mr. Mele Kolo Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited. Kyari stressed NNPC’s commitment to developing gas infrastructure in Nigeria, citing it as essential for meeting the nation’s energy demands. Projects such as the Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben Gas Pipeline and the Ajaokuta–Kaduna–Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline are set to significantly increase the capacity of the oil and gas network, thereby enhancing energy security and accessibility.

However, amidst the promise of progress, Kyari also confronted the stark reality of insecurity that threatens to undermine the stability and reliability of the energy sector. With candour and determination, he addressed the persistent challenges posed by vandalism and oil theft on pipelines, which not only disrupt the flow of energy resources but also jeopardise the safety of communities and the livelihoods of countless individuals.

Kyari outlined NNPC’s comprehensive approach to tackling these threats, encompassing heightened surveillance, community engagement initiatives, and collaboration with law enforcement agencies to safeguard critical infrastructure and ensure uninterrupted energy supply.

Essentially, Kyari’s keynote address served as a rallying call for collective action and steadfast resolve in confronting the multifaceted challenges facing Nigeria’s energy sector. By illuminating the role of transportation infrastructure and reaffirming NNPC’s unwavering commitment to enhancing energy security, Kyari galvanized stakeholders to join hands in forging a path towards a more resilient, sustainable, and prosperous energy future for Nigeria and beyond. As the nation embarks on this transformative journey, Kyari’s words resonate as a beacon of hope and inspiration, guiding the way towards a brighter tomorrow.

In his special address, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), cast a penetrating spotlight on the overarching theme of the event: Nigeria’s Imperative Energy Transformation Towards Stability and Sustainability. Drawing inspiration from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s resolute commitment at COP 28, Lokpobiri eloquently articulated a compelling vision for the future, one characterized by a harmonious balance between economic progress and environmental stewardship.

With incisive clarity, Sen. Lokpobiri underscored the important role of infrastructure development as a way to attract both domestic and international investors to Nigeria’s growing energy sector. He emphasized that robust infrastructure not only facilitates the efficient movement of energy resources but also serves as a tangible demonstration of the government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for business growth and investment. By leveraging Nigeria’s abundant fossil fuel resources while simultaneously embracing the transition to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, Lokpobiri advocated for a balanced approach that acknowledges the nation’s energy needs while safeguarding the planet for future generations.

Additionally, Lokpobiri issued a stirring call to action for the government to lead by example, particularly in increasing local refining capacity and investing in modular refineries. By enhancing domestic refining capabilities, Nigeria can reduce its reliance on costly imports and create a more self-sufficient and resilient energy ecosystem.

Furthermore, Sen. Lokpobiri emphasized the indispensable role of transportation infrastructure, including pipelines, railways, seaports, and roads, in facilitating the seamless movement of energy resources across the vast expanse of the country. These arteries of connectivity are not merely conduits for commerce but lifelines that sustain the nation’s economic vitality and ensure equitable access to energy resources for all.

In summary, the Minister’s special address served as a call for concerted action and visionary leadership in navigating Nigeria’s energy transformation journey. By championing a holistic approach that embraces innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity, Lokpobiri charted a course towards a more prosperous, resilient, and sustainable energy future for Nigeria and its people. As stakeholders across the spectrum heed his clarion call and join hands in pursuit of this common vision, Lokpobiri’s words resonate as a beacon of hope and inspiration, guiding the nation towards a brighter tomorrow.

Overall, the 2024 Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum served as a platform for dialogue and collaboration towards a more viable and sustainable energy sector in Nigeria. As the energy landscape continues to evolve, events like OLEF play a crucial role in shaping the future of energy in Nigeria and beyond.

Far more than a mere gathering of industry insiders and policymakers, this seminal event stood as a testament to the power of dialogue, collaboration, and collective action in charting the course towards a more viable and sustainable energy sector in Nigeria.

Throughout the forum, participants engaged in spirited discussions, exchanged insights, and forged connections that transcended organizational boundaries and sectoral divides. From lively panel sessions to intimate networking opportunities, the event provided a fertile ground for the cultivation of innovative ideas and collaborative solutions to the pressing challenges facing the energy landscape.

Representatives, such as Hart Cyril, emerged as vocal advocates for the transformative potential of concerted action and strategic investment in the energy sector. Echoing the sentiments expressed by their peers, they issued a resounding call for increased government support to bolster productivity, stimulate economic growth, and attract foreign investments. Recognizing that the challenges facing the energy sector are multifaceted and complex, they underscored the importance of a coordinated approach that leverages the strengths of government, industry, and civil society alike.

As the energy landscape continues to evolve in response to shifting market dynamics, technological advancements, and global imperatives, events like the Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum assume unparalleled significance in shaping the industry. By providing a platform for stakeholders to come together, exchange ideas, and explore innovative solutions, these gatherings serve as catalysts for progress, driving forward the agenda for a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable energy future.

In this era of unprecedented change and uncertainty, the need for dialogue, collaboration, and visionary leadership has never been greater. As stakeholders across the spectrum heed the lessons learned and insights gained from the 2024 Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum, they are poised to chart a course towards a brighter tomorrow, not only for Nigeria but for the global energy community as a whole. Indeed, the legacy of events like OLEF transcends borders and boundaries, serving as a light of hope and inspiration in the journey towards a more prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive world.