"When trust exists between operating companies and host communities, it significantly decreases security risks."
Can you give an overview of Asharami Energy and the services you provide to the industry?
Asharami Energy is the upstream arm of Sahara group operating eight oil blocks, one in Côte d’Ivoire, one in Ghana and six in Nigeria - two of which are currently producing. In line with our target to increase production to 100,000 bpd within the next five years, Asharami is actively drilling more exploration wells and seeking more producing assets. Many indigenous companies today in the oil and gas industry came into the upstream space through IOC divestments of producing assets. However, we take pride in the E&P nature of our work. We participated in the government bid round for green fields (OPLs) and emerged successful. We then acquired seismic and started drilling and exploring before producing so we have started from scratch.
To what extent is the Nigerian legal framework promoting exploration compared to those of Ghana or Côte d’Ivoire?
The Niger Delta is a well-developed basin compared to Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire where the basin is not yet developed. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are looking for investors to further develop the basin and thus they have more favorable fiscal terms and regulations than the areas that are well developed. Nigeria has a mature basin and cannot really be compared to the likes of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Near the Niger Delta there is a very high security risk. To what extent does that effect Asharami Energy’s operations?
Security at the Niger Delta remains a major issue. Our robust community relations strategy has been instrumental to the cooperation we get from our host communities who we see as our stakeholders. It is important to engage the communities transparently to reassure them of your commitment to the well-being of the environment and the people. Asharami Energy designs various models of interventions in conjunction with the community, establishing mutual interests. When trust exists between operating companies and host communities, it significantly decreases security risks. At Asharami Energy, we have a very cordial relationship with our host community, a development that makes our operations seamless. We involve the community in what we do and create employment opportunities for them through our projects. We have also laid electric poles from our station to the community as we have the objective to use the gas from our flow station to power the entire community. This project will be concluded by mid-2020. Taking care of the host community where you operate is important as it creates a sense of belonging for the community, a collaborative environment between the company and the community, and reduces the risks of the host community wanting to sabotage your work.
Overall, the security risk in Nigeria is not as bad as what it has been made out to be.
Do you believe that the clause in the PIB guaranteeing 10% to host communities will be implemented and apply to both national and international oil companies?
We remain hopeful that upon conclusion of the legislative process, the provisions of the PIB will be implemented and ultimately, this will transform the sector and further deepen the market for accelerated growth and development.
2020 has been named the year of natural gas for Nigeria. Is there an infrastructure in place to support this rise?
While I share in the excitement of what we can achieve with natural gas in Nigeria, I think we still need to do quite a lot in the aspect of supporting the growth with appropriate infrastructure. The process to get this infrastructure in place is ongoing and in due course we will have what we need in place to unlock opportunities in Nigeria as well as emerge as a regional and global force in the gas market.
What are Asharami Energy’s objectives moving forward?
Asharami Energy has the aim to increase production to 100,000 bpd over the next five years. We are also looking to acquire more assets to increase production beyond this.
Do you have a final message for our international readership?
I believe that the entire industry needs to come together and learn from each other. We do not share data as much as we should, and it is important to share and collaborate to learn from each other in order to reduce errors and boost productivity across-the-board.