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Between Operation White and Revenue-Leakage in Downstream Sector

-By Benjamin Ike

Penultimate week, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva inaugurated the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)-led initiative to guarantee energy security code-named ‘Operation White’.

Aimed at entrenching energy security and deepening the drive for transparency, the Minister charged the 89 – member project team drawn from five key Agencies – NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), and the Department of State Services (DSS) – to work assiduously while embracing the highest level of accountability, to collectively succeed excellently.

Acknowledging the leadership which the Minister said has been consistently provided by the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, he noted that every organization is as strong as the quality of leadership just as he expressed his optimism that the gains of the ‘Operation White’ project would reduce the inflated product consumption figure and ultimately reduce the subsidy wage bill, a statement made available to newsmen by Olujimi Oyetomi, Head Press Unit, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, October 10, 2019 said.

In his remarks, NNPC GMD Mallam Kyari encouraged the team members to deliver on the national assignment with a deepened sense of patriotism and excellence even as he assured that the project would monitor and track the entire movement of petroleum products and enshrine visible transparency across the valuechain.

Chief Sylva was later taken on tour of ‘Operation White’s’ Command and Control Centre by the Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), and project team leader, Mr. Bala Wunti who hinted that competence, character and chemistry were major indices considered in the selection of the team members.

Wunti who assured of the ability of ‘Operation White’ to produce the intended result by ensuring availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability in delivery of products also hinted that the project architecture has the capacity to effectively track the movement of every single molecule of product imported into the shores of Nigeria, insisting on the commitment of the team to deliver above and beyond the mandate.

The implementation of ‘Operation White’ succinctly captures two out of ten key priority areas as adopted by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources under the leadership of Chief Timipre Sylva. They include, curbing petroleum products cross border leakages and working assiduously to support President Muhammadu Bahari in his efforts to achieve his target of raising millions of Nigerians out of poverty via job creation, among others.

The project will ultimately reduce the endemic diversion of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) while enhancing state revenue and eliminating financial hemorrhage, even as it creates new job opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

The launch event which attracted the top echelon of the country’s Petroleum Downstream Industry had in attendance representatives of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depots and Petroleum Products Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, PPPRA, Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) (Management) Board, DPR, as well as top management of NNPC who pledged their firm commitment and support for the project.