On Monday, the U.S. Government expressed confidence in the Nigeria oil and gas industry under the stewardship of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
In the last two months, the Minister has established specialized task forces/committees in the Petroleum industry. The task forces/committees are saddled with the mandates of fast tracking ongoing oil sector reforms, and providing value addition in the Federal Government's drive to ensure that Nigeria reaps bountifully from the proceeds of God-given hydrocarbon resources.
Speaking at the end of a breakfast session with the Honorable Minister of Petroleum Resources at the NNPC Towers in Abuja, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, while describing Alison-Madueke as a visionary leader, stated that the United States will continue its partnership with Nigeria in the oil sector, as well as other areas of common interest.
"We had an excellent meeting with the Minister. She is a visionary who is looking ahead to a sector that will bring great benefit to the people of Nigeria and I know she is working very closely with the Nigerian President to ensure a very bright future for all Nigerians," stated Ambassador Sherman.
Ambassador Sherman, who was accompanied by the Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, Carlos Pascual, and the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence Mc Culley, pledged continuation of the US/Nigeria bilateral trade relationship.
"The United States looks forward to continuing with a strong partnership both here in Nigeria, in the region, and throughout the world," added Ambassador Sherman. Welcoming the U.S. delegation, Alison-Madueke described the U.S. as a worthy partner in the oil and gas industry, noting that the Federal Government is determined to sustain the relationship.
In addition to the U.S. commendation, last week the Minster convened a two-day National Refineries Workshop in Abuja. The aim of the workshop was to seek out an integrated solution to the challenges confronting the nation's traditional refineries.
Day one of the session saw the attendance of all downstream stakeholders within the NNPC Group, as well as officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources seeking to galvanize all options in the drive to increasing the nation's refining capacity through the rehabilitation and upgrade of existing refineries. The workshop came to a close on Tuesday and saw participation from all major interest groups, as well as trade unions in the downstream sector of the Petroleum industry.
Furthermore, extra succor for communities in the Bayelsa State who have been impacted by the recent gas fire incident at the Chevron Nigeria operated gas rig came with the arrival of additional relief material over the weekend, courtesy of Alison-Madueke.
The material, which included around 4,000 cartons of table water, arrived at the Yenagoa water front over the weekend for onward distribution to the affected communities of Koluama 1, Koluama 11, Ekeni, Foropa, Fishtown, Ezetu 1, Ezetu 11, and Sanga, all of which are in the Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.
Before now, the Minister, through the NNPC, had despatched bags of rice, beans, antiseptic soaps, toiletries, cloths vegetable oil, and dairy products to the communities.
Christopher Tuodo, Chairman of the Keffes Rural Development Foundation, who received the items on behalf of the eight communities under the Keffes umbrella, thanked the Minister for living up to an earlier promise during her visit to the communities a few weeks ago.
The fire in question broke out on January, 16, 2012, after a new gas well head at Funawa 5 gas platform, situated on the Kolu-Ama River in Southern Ijaw, exploded. Funawa 5 is located in the Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on the Drilling Rig KS located in shallow water approximately 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) off the coast of Nigeria.
The resultant gas fire, which has since diminished to a marginal level, brought to the fore the perennial challenge of environmental pollution and degradation in the oil bearing region.
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