Emerging report indicates that Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu has stated that ExxonMobil has no plans to exit Nigeria contrary to reports in some section of the media.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Kachikwu made this known while briefing journalists after facility tour of ExxonMobil Erha Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessels (FPSO) in Lagos on Sunday.
FPSO unit is a floating vessel used by the Offshore oil and gas industry for the production and processing of hydrocarbons for the storage of oil.
Erha FPSO has a liquid storage capacity of 2.2 million barrel, making it one of its biggest kind in the world. The Erha field and Erha North satellite field was completed in 2006.
The fields are located approximately 97km offshore Nigeria in water depths ranging from 1,000m to 1,200m. They were developed with an investment of 3.5 billion dollars.
He said that it was not possible for a company like ExxonMobil to sell off its assets for the small amount quoted in the report as its assets were much more worth than that.
"I have confirmed that it is not true, there are going to be here for a long stay, they will be here over the next 50 years, they are looking for more, they are doing all kinds of things, they just begun the exploration campaign first time in four years because of the new cash call policies we put in place.
"That is not a sign of somebody who is exiting. But different from not exiting is to be aggressive. ExxonMobil needs to be more aggressive in terms of development policies," he said
He added that ExxonMobil needs to be more aggressive with business as Bonga Southwest was almost on FID, Egina just kicked off and Agip is struggling to get Zabzaba online.
"So, I need to see a very robust development," he advised
Commenting on the aim of his visit, he said that it was to encourage the company and see the development programmes as well as share in the challenges they were experiencing in their operations.
"First is to draw attention to the very complex and complication of operations of FPSOs when we do production offshore.
"This is about 100 km from Land, and part of the thing I am doing this month is visiting some of them. Including Egina that is just recently buoyed in a different location and the one of Agip.
"I am here to look at what they are doing, to encourage them to continue the fantastic work they are doing and also discuss with them what their problems are," he said
According to him, the visit is also to draw attention nationally and internationally to the few challenges in operations as complicated as this one.
He urged the company to brace up to the challenges in the sector as oil had recently been found in many African countries.
Earlier, Richard Laing, ExxonMobil Executive Director, Production commended the minister for making out time to visit the facility and reiterated that the company had no plans to exit Nigeria.
"We are happy with Nigeria, We have our differences, we don’t agree on everything, we are happy and content. We are delighted over the minister’s visit and we are happy that he has come back to his spiritual home.
"As the minister said, the corporation has been here for many years, we intend to stay, we have ambitious growth programmes to build wealth and grow business to make more profit, key into the gas commercialisation project.
"We fully support what the minister said and we look forward to working with him," he said.
Laing said that the company was being faced with the challenges of competition for capital and expertise in running the business.