A major source of revenue in Nigeria is crude oil, and the country ranks as the sixth-largest oil-producing nation in the world and the largest in Africa. With the busy nature of the industry, one of the major challenges facing it in the production phase is oil spillages which occur from time to time. And often, they are caused by third-party interference on the assets or system failure.
Although these leaks and spillages have a negative impact on the environment and marine life, it is quite uncommon in the country for such situations to be contained rapidly and efficiently.
It is in this vein that in a chat with Victor Ekpenyong, founder and CEO at Kenyon International West Africa Ltd – a fast-rising indigenous oil management company, a lot was revealed about how oil systems and wells in Nigeria can be improved upon to work optimally.
About fifty-two percent of the oil wells in Nigeria are privately-owned while the others are owned by foreign investors. A good number of these oil wells are idle, not producing, and are not properly secured. Oil well leaks and spills in the industry, according to Ekpenyong happen majorly due to third-party interferences and perhaps equipment failure.
Also, oil spills pose several problems and negative effects, some of which are environmental hazards, and even a loss in the nation’s revenue. This is because the federal government through the ministry of budget and planning benchmarks crude oil by ascertaining the daily production yearly. Ekpenyong explains, “this enables them to create a budget for the year. If for example, the projected daily production for the year 2022 was 1.8 million barrels per day at 60 dollars per barrel, and we have 1 million barrels per day due to pipeline vandalism, we would have lost a huge chunk of our revenue.”
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Oil spills also affect communities’ trust towards the government and oil production companies because a resultant effect of oil spills includes the death of marine life which the people rely on for sustenance and commercial purposes. To this, Ekpenyong stresses the importance of building relationships with host communities to not only restore wells but also prevent spills as a result of vandalism and other forms of third-party interference from happening in the future.
He says, “the locals would not be able to fish or carry out their regular activities due to the impact of the oil on their rivers. In essence, there needs to be some form of communal effort involving the government, regulators, operating companies, and host communities in solving these persisting problems of vandalism and oil spillages.”
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Daily, the Nigerian oil sector is faced with constant challenges, and Ekpenyong, along with his team, proffers solutions to the mismanagement of oil wells in Nigeria. He states that idle oil wells can be worked on, and oil production can be boosted once again. All it requires is a concrete plan detailing how it would be done.
Firstly, in restoring communities and saving environments from oil spills, he narrates a step-by-step approach. “We send some of our technicians to conduct a thorough inspection of the area to know what we are up against. Then we ascertain the severity of the spill after which we go to the drawing board to map out ways to curb the spill. The final step is mobilizing our team to contain the spill,” he said.
On how idle wells in Nigeria can be restored to life, Ekpenyong revealed that he and his team at Kenyon International developed a robust idle well-integrated management plan which they have already submitted to different operators and regulatory bodies. “In Nigeria, we have so many idle wells; therefore, we need to figure out how to manage them effectively to safeguard our environment and assets. We need to put measures in place to prevent third-party interferences on these assets,” he reiterates.
Ekpenyong also believes his company’s dedicated efforts can redeem the oil systems in Nigeria and Africa at large. According to him, companies that have many idle wells “could reach out to us so we can help them develop effective systems they could put in place to efficiently manage their wells and prevent such environmental disasters keeping both customers and the host communities safe.”
- Victor Ekpenyong is the founder & CEO of Kenyon International West Africa Company Limited and an experienced Well Intervention /Control specialist