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Coronavirus

The dangling fate of indigenous oil upstream operators

What is good for the goose is therefore equally suitable for the gander. It is crucial that the government urgently unrolls a fiscal Marshall plan to address the economic emergency in the upstream oil sector

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CBN commences Forex ban on food importation, CBN’s Emefiele congratulates Dr Kingsley Obiora as he assumes office, indigenous oil firms

Governments all over the world have been launching salvos of fiscal relief to several sectors of their economy. Nigeria has also been active in this respect.

It is a right wake-up call for Nigeria on economic diversification and therefore there is an urgency to counter the economy-wide threats of the coronavirus pandemic. Curiously, the industry that lays the golden egg, which unfortunately appears to be the centre point for the transmission of the disastrous effects to the rest of the economy is seemingly missing from the list of fiscal intervention beneficiaries.

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In his op-ed, the central bank governor marshalled out a relief plan for the SMEs, pharmaceutical industry, manufacturing industry as well as the transport infrastructure provision strengthening.

All three sectors – SMEs, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and transport – are to enjoy fiscal reliefs to the tunes of N50 billion, N500 billion, N100 billion and N15 trillion respectively within the next 36 months.

Intriguingly, the oil sector seems unremembered in this scheme of palliatives. Yet, this sector apart from being the critical revenue provider and foreign exchange source to the government is also the worst commercially hit by the pandemic.

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READ ALSO: Banks to recover N6.125 trillion loan from oil firms 

Both the banks and oil companies will experience substantial levels of financial discomfort except with generous extensions of relief interventions to them. Since year 2000, bank financing of the oil and gas sector had grown fourfold from 6% to approximately 24% in 2010.

For some banks, it is as high as 40% of the total portfolio. In general, the banking sector concentrated more than 25% of its balance sheet in the oil and gas sector. Much scholarly research has shown a strong inverse relationship between banking industry concentration in the oil sector and its profitability.

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Based on the Nigerian banking industry data between 2007 and 2019, banks’ liquidity position on average appears to improve by 45% for every 1% increase in the crude oil export price. On the flip side, a 1% increase in crude oil price leads to about a 67% drop in the banking industry non-performing loans on average.

The upstream oil sector, on the other hand, faces a unique dilemma. The first is running loss position on its products which trades below current production cost. This scenario is likely to last slightly longer pending the resumption of economic activities globally.

READ MORE: Oil firms’ debt status: How it affects Nigerian banks

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The second is the growing size of the unsold inventory; a penalty for global oil production cost leadership. For instance, while our average production cost is approximately $16 per barrel that of Russia and Saudi Arabia are $4 and $5, respectively. These cost advantages give them enormous discount granting capacities.

Accordingly, both Russia and Saudi Arabia can conveniently extend between 25% and 30% discounts and remain profitable per barrel of oil sold. We lack the capacity and are therefore stuck with our wares until these large volumes, and low-cost producers exit the market.

Despite all of these force-Majure induced market disappointments, costs of the bank facilities deployed in the production keep running. Without a deliberate intervention, if this crisis persists for up to six months, indigenous oil firms will have to grapple with financial overloads that may lead to cataclysmic collapses.

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The future of oil prices does not look very bright in the short term. It does not appear as if this virus pandemic will quickly vanish unless economic activities return to full blast. That can only happen if there are fully approved and endorsed cure vaccine made available across all the countries of the world. It also does not seem as if that is an immediate possibility.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Short-term reforms needed to reduce impacts on the Nigerian economy -NESG

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The implication is that recovery will be in a gradually cautious and stepwise fashion to maintain the balance between mass reinfections and the revamp of economic activity in many countries. So far, the easing of lockdown in many countries have followed that process. What it therefore means is that the oil companies may have to look at a twelve-month horizon for a possible full-scale activity return.

In the interim, their entrepreneurial destinies will unwrap in tandem with the gradual easing of economic activities globally and the consequent oil price improvements. Unfortunately, three months into the pandemic, many indigenous upstream oil producers are already defaulting in their bank obligations. But that is just one of the many potentially bank-specific devastating after-effects.

The other is the threat to the local content policy of the government in the oil and gas sector. The implication, therefore, is that leaving the local operators in the industry who do not possess a comparable level of access to global financing as their foreign counterparts without adequate rescue plan will set the policy back by several decades. And with the previously painted twelve-month picture of slow, and gradual economic recovery, these defaults will most likely get worse.

The drastic consequences of allowing this scenario to play out will be far-reaching not only on the local upstream oil operators and the exposed banks but to the economy as a whole through a host of other indirect channels. There are at least four ways in which banks receive the impact. The first is through the reduction in interest income as well as overall profitability.

READ ALSO: Where next for oil prices?

Other effect transmission channels include the possible adverse effects on bank balance sheets as well as potential increases in their operational costs. Again, it is also possible that if this very-low crude oil price regime lasts for more than six months without significantly sustained interventions in the banking sector, that confidence issues may crop-up.

An initial reduced confidence trigger may take roots among the not-too-strong banks that are also severely exposed. If not properly managed, this may worsen depending on the degree of withdrawals and liquidity mismatch experienced by such banks. It is needless to state that the indirect transmission channels can be as devastating as the direct impact points.

Furthermore, allowing this crisis to considerably hurt local operators in the upstream segment of the oil and gas sector will deal a devastating blow on the local representation in that industry. Nigeria has come a long way to have a foothold in the oil and gas sector, which is a supposed exclave economy that consequently determined our domestic economic success for several years.

The local content policy, which is a complementary feature of that foothold, will be disastrously affected without a consciously mapped out plan to save the local operators in that sector. The policy enhances local participation and capacity development of the Nigerian people and their resources.

Since its implementation in the oil and gas sector, it has expanded the value chain of embedded services provided by the Nigerian people. And in the natural order of things, Nigerian owned firms are always more disposed to engage authentically Nigerian businesses as part of the local content policy.

READ MORE: Naira drops to N460/$1 in parallel market, puts pressure on official exchange rate

Therefore an error of policy design in a crisis time excluding them from salvific fiscal incentives will cost us a substantial share of the investment ownership and the human resources in the sector. We estimate the loss of up to 40% of economic activities in Nigerian owned firms – mostly engineering, construction as well as training and consulting firms – along the entire upstream oil and gas value chain if that potential faux pass is allowed.

Although the income-depressing effects on government and corporate earnings of the low oil prices are well-known and increasingly provisioned through varieties of interventionist programs to activate other sectors. However, we must know that ignoring, the upstream oil sector in these plans can only make matters worse.

The negative impact on governments income and many corporates with their economic activities embedded in the upstream oil sector’s value chain will, albeit at varying degrees, affect their capacity to repay their obligation to banks. In the same vein, the dilemma of our dangerous dependency on crude oil export for foreign exchange and our huge import dependency and appetite will naturally put pressure on both the exchange rate as well as the supply of foreign exchange.

The adjustments that will ensue will result in spikes on the cost of doing business. Many businesses will close shop as a consequence. These effects will aggravate the size of non-performing loans of the banking sectors. The severity of all of these potential consequences will depend on the extent to which the government’s fiscal interventions facilitate the revamp in the oil and gas sector as well as these other non-oil sectors.

The need for a comprehensive agenda for rebooting the economy that specifically recognises the unique challenges of the local players in the upstream segment of the Nigerian oil and gas sector is vital at this time. The dynamics of the current oil market crash and the attendant harsh economic reality differ from the 2015–17 oil price shock.

It, however, appears as if the central bank of Nigeria is still carrying-over and implementing its controversial ‘aloofness’ policy which it adopted in the 2015–17 situation to this present crisis. It would be very unwise to do so. While the pursuit of economic diversification is critical, it is essential to note that the oil sector is not dead on account of the current market crisis.

All industries occasionally face bumps in their market conditions. Governments always bail banks out, given its strategic importance. Nigeria’s upstream oil and gas sector in some sense possesses the same calibre of value.

What is good for the goose is therefore equally suitable for the gander. It is crucial that the government urgently unrolls a fiscal Marshall plan to address the economic emergency in the upstream oil sector. Of particular importance in the scheme should be the local players’ who lack the kind of leverage that their foreign counterparts have in accessing low costs funds globally.

Such a program should incorporate significant tax reliefs and perhaps up to a six-month suspension of repayments on loans owed local banks in the country. There should also be an articulated set of buffers for the recovery of local upstream oil operators as the global economy recovers.

Article written by Nnanyelugo Ike-Muonso

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: FG plans safe school reopening, as WHO discloses new guides to contain virus

The best way to reopen schools is once countries succeed in combating the spread of the disease.

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Covid-19: FG lists conditions for reopening of schools, universities

The Federal Government has released guidelines for the safe reopening of schools after COVID-19 pandemic closures.

This was disclosed by the Federal Ministry of Education on its official website on Monday, as it published the guidelines and outlined actions, measures, and requirements needed for the safe reopening of schools after the pandemic is contained.

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The 52-paged communique, which was signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, and Minister of State (Education), Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, was developed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Health, and health safety experts in the country.

READ ALSO: Edtech redefines learning during Coronavirus pandemic

Adamu said, “Now is the time to plan and address the eventual safe reopening of schools and learning facilities. It will be recalled that at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, schools and all learning facilities were closed in order to safeguard the health and general wellbeing of our children, youths, teachers, and educational personnel.

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“As a responsible government, it is also our duty to provide comprehensive guidelines for a safe and hitch-free reopening of schools and learning facilities. We do so knowing that the health, safety, and security of learners, teachers, education personnel, and families are priorities.”

According to him, the Guidelines for Schools and Learning Facilities Reopening after COVID-19 Pandemic Closures outlines key strategies for implementing safe and efficient and equitable plans for school reopening and operations.

Mr Adamu further noted that the document focuses on attendance, social distancing, hygiene, cleaning, and non-pharmaceutical interventions for safe and healthy school activities and programs.

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READ ALSO: FPI and FDI drop to $68 million and $18 million respectively in April, lowest since 2016

The minister noted that given that COVID-19 may be with us for a while, the guidelines also highlight the urgent need to maintain and improve upon distance-learning programs, adding that the government’s aim is to identify and strengthen programs that will guarantee the recovery of learning gaps resulting from the pandemic

WHO warns

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Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned global leaders that Covid-19 will not disappear in the coming months, and it’s unrealistic to expect that a perfect vaccine will become available to everyone immediately.

This was disclosed by Head, Emergencies programme, WHO, Mike Ryan, at a briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.

Ryan is optimistic that things won’t return to normal “for the foreseeable future,” as confirmed cases worldwide exceeded 13 million.

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He explained that it would be unrealistic to expect that a perfect vaccine will become available to everyone immediately, and it’s not realistic to expect Covid-19 to disappear in the coming months.

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WHO’s stand on when schools can open

Ryan said, “The best way to reopen schools is to do so once countries succeed in combating the spread of the disease.”

Technical Lead Officer, WHO, Maria Van Kerkhove, said, “Not enough is known about the role of children in transmission, though several recent studies suggest that children over 10 are more susceptible to infection than those under 10.”

She added that WHO has sent two scientists as an advance mission to China to work remotely with local researchers as local rules require them to stay in quarantine.

They are learning how animals transmitted the disease will help in fighting it.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 13th of July 2020, 595 new confirmed cases and 4 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increase as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 33,153 confirmed cases.

On the 13th of July 2020, 595 new confirmed cases and 4 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,046 samples across the country.

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To date, 33,153 cases have been confirmed, 13,671 cases have been discharged and 744 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 183,294 tests have been carried out as of July 13th, 2020 compared to 181,248 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 13th July 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 33,153
  • Total Number Discharged – 13,671
  • Total Deaths – 744
  • Total Tests Carried out – 183,294

According to the NCDC, the 595 new cases were reported from 20 states- Lagos (156), Oyo (141), FCT (99), Edo (47), Kaduna (27), Ondo (22), Rivers (20), Osun (17), Imo (13), Plateau (10), Nasarawa (8), Anambra (8), Kano (5), Benue (5), Borno (5), Ogun (4), Taraba (3), Gombe (3), Kebbi (1), Cross River (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 12,583, followed by Abuja (2,675), Oyo (1,867), Edo (1,778), Rivers (1,388),  Delta (1,359), Kano (1,314), Ogun (1,091),  Kaduna (1,016), Ondo (738), Katsina (669), Ebonyi (616), Borno (591), Plateau (543), Gombe (533), Bauchi (521), Enugu (476), Abia (405),  Imo (399), Kwara (330).

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Jigawa state has recorded 321 cases, Bayelsa (313), Osun (262), Nasarawa (252), Sokoto (153), Akwa Ibom and Niger (145),  Benue (126), Adamawa (110), Anambra (101), Kebbi (87), Zamfara (76), Ekiti (63), Yobe (62), Taraba (30), Cross River (10) while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

 

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

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Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020.

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READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

DateConfirmed caseNew casesTotal deathsNew deathsTotal recoveryActive casesCritical cases
July 13, 202033153595744413671187387
July 12, 2020325585717401613447183717
July 11, 2020319876647241513103181607
July 10, 2020313235757092012795178197
July 9, 202030748499689512546175137
July 8, 2020302494606841512373171927
July 7, 2020297895036691512108170127
July 6, 202029286575654911828168047
July 5, 2020287115446451111665164017
July 4, 202028167603634611462160717
July 3, 2020275644546281211069158677
July 2, 2020271106266161310801156937
July 1, 2020264847906031310152157297
June 30, 202025694561590179746153587
June 29, 20202513356657389402151587
June 28, 20202486749056579007149957
June 27, 20202407777955848625148947
June 26, 20202329868455458253144917
June 25, 20202261459454977822142437
June 24, 20202202064954297613138657
June 23, 20202137145253387338135007
June 22, 20202091967552577109132857
June 21, 202020242436518126879128477
June 20, 202019808661506196718125847
June 19, 202019147667487126581120797
June 18, 20201848074547566307116987
June 17, 202017735587469145967112997
June 16, 202017148490455315623110707
June 15, 20201665857342445349108857
June 14, 202016085403420135220104457
June 13, 20201568250140785101101747
June 12, 20201518162739912489198917
June 11, 2020145546813875449496737
June 10, 20201387340938217435191407
June 9, 2020134646633654420688937
June 8, 2020128013153617404084007
June 7, 20201248626035412395981737
June 6, 2020122333893429382680657
June 5, 20201184432833310369678157
June 4, 2020115163503238353576467
June 3, 2020111663483151332975227
June 2, 20201081924131415323972667
June 1, 20201057841629912312271579
May 31, 20201016230728714300768687
May 30, 2020985555327312285667267
May 29, 202093023872612269763447
May 28, 202089151822595259260647
May 27, 202087333892545250159787
May 26, 2020834427624916238557107
May 25, 202080682292337231155247
May 24, 202078393132265226353607
May 23, 202075262652210217451317
May 22, 2020726124522110200750337
May 21, 2020701633921111190748987
May 20, 202066772842008184046377
May 19, 202064012261921173444757
May 18, 202061752161919164443407
May 17, 202059593881826159441837
May 16, 202056211761765147239737
May 15, 202054452881713132039544
May 14, 202051621931683118038154
May 13, 202049711841646107037374
May 12, 20204787146158695936704
May 11, 202046412421521090235894
May 10, 202043992481421777834794
May 9, 202041512391271174532784
May 8, 202039123861181067931154
May 7, 20203526381108460128184
May 6, 20203145195104553425071
May 5, 2020295014899548123704
May 4, 2020280224594641722912
May 3, 2020255817088240020702
May 2, 20202388220861735119522
May 1, 20202170238691035117512
April 30, 2020193220459731715562
April 29, 2020172819652730713692
April 28, 2020153219545425512322
April 27, 20201337644102559942
April 26, 20201273914152399942
April 25, 20201182873632229252
April 24, 202010951143312088552
April 23, 20209811083231977532
April 22, 2020873912931976482
April 21, 20207821172631975602
April 20, 2020665382311884662
April 19, 2020627862221704362
April 18, 2020541482021663562
April 17, 2020493511841593172
April 16, 2020442351311522772
April 15, 2020407341211282672
April 14, 202037330111992632
April 13, 202034320100912422
April 12, 20203235100852282
April 11, 202031813103702382
April 10, 20203051770582402
April 9, 20202881471512302
April 8, 20202742260442262
April 7, 20202541661442042
April 6, 2020238650351982
April 5, 20202321851331942
April 4, 2020214540251850
April 3, 20202092542251800
April 2, 20201841020201620
April 1, 2020174352091630
March 31, 202013982091280
March 30, 2020131202181210
March 29, 2020111221031070
March 28, 20208919103850
March 27, 2020705103660
March 26, 20206514102620
March 25, 2020517102480
March 24, 2020444102410
March 23, 20204010112370
March 22, 2020308002280
March 21, 20202210001210
March 20, 2020124001110
March 19, 20208000170
March 18, 20208500170
March 17, 20203100030
March 16, 20202000020
March 15, 20202000020
March 14, 20202000020
March 13, 20202000020
March 12, 20202000020
March 11, 20202000020
March 10, 20202000020
March 9, 20202100020
March 8, 20201000010
March 7, 20201000010
March 6, 20201000010
March 5, 20201000010
March 4, 20201000010
March 3, 20201000010
March 2, 20201000010
March 1, 20201000010
February 29, 20201000010
February 28, 20201100010

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Coronavirus

Evacuation: 247 Nigerians arrive home from Malaysia, Thailand 

The returnees were evacuated with a chartered Air Peace flight APK-7813.

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Evacuation: 247 Nigerians arrive home from Malaysia, Thailand 

The Federal Government of Nigeria has safely evacuated and returned home, two hundred and forty-seven Nigerians who were stranded in Malaysia and Thailand 

The returnees were evacuated with a chartered Air Peace flight APK-7813 which arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 11p.m. on Saturday. 

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According to Mr Gabriel Odu, the Head of Media and Public Relations Unit of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) who spoke to NAN, some of the returnees disembarked in Abuja, while the others proceeded to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. 

READ ALSO: Nigerians willing to travel abroad will wait a bit longer – Aviation Ministry

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In line with the protocols announced by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, all of the returnees presented a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding the evacuation flight, and upon arriving Nigeria, are expected to proceed on a 14-day self-isolation 

Since four weeks ago, from the federal government, through the ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the resumption of evacuation flights, hundreds of stranded Nigerians have been returned home to their families from different countries including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Egypt, Malaysia and Thailand.  

READ ALSO: COVID-19 could impoverish additional 5 million Nigerians – World Bank  

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The returnees bear the cost of their flight tickets and are expected to self-isolate for four weeks, upon their return to Nigeria. Returnees who receive a clean bill of health after the isolation, are given their passports and allowed to go home.  

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