Negative Foreign Oil Investment Means Positive Domestic Opportunities

As the chief executive of the Barbedos Group, humanitarian and businessman Kashim Bukar Shettima leads Barbedos Oil and Gas Services Limited. A 100% Nigerian-owned subsidiary of Kashim Bukar Shettima’s conglomerate, the company is involved in the trade and export of Nigerian oil and gas resources.

In 2006, the percentage of Nigerian oil pumped by foreign companies dropped to 90%, down from 97%, a figure that had been consistent for over five decades previously. If this trend of foreign divestment continues, that figure could drop to around 60% by 2018, according to a London-based analyst for Ecobank Research.

These dramatic declines are happening even though Nigeria, with 36 billion barrels of crude, possesses the second largest oil reserve in Africa. Despite this incredibly rich resource, foreign companies are pulling out of Nigeria primarily as a result of violence and thefts in the Niger River delta, where the bulk of the nation’s exploitable energy lies.

Is there a silver lining to the retreat of foreign interests from Nigerian oil fields? For Nigerian energy companies, the answer is likely “yes.” By virtue of their familiarity with their communities, local companies may be better equipped to handle the security problems that plague foreign companies. If these companies can overcome these difficulties while sustaining safe and efficient operations, they are poised to fill the vacuum created by other companies leaving the region.

The potential economic boost is enormous: a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth would be retained in Nigeria, to the benefit of the entire country.

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