A new framework that would promote optimal production and patronage of locally produced barites in oil and gas operations would be developed by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in conjunction with the Association of Miners and Processors of Barites (AMAPOB).
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote directed the development of the roadmap in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at a recent workshop organised by the Board and attended by miners, representatives of international operating companies, service companies and other key stakeholders.
When the new framework is developed between six months and one year and is deemed to be practicable, the Board would make a pronouncement on the utilization of locally manufactured barites, he added.
Wabote expressed displeasure that despite the long standing support provided by the NCDMB and the donation of mechanized mining equipment and laboratory by Chevron Nigeria Limited to AMAPOB, there had not been substantial investments by the miners and institution of a sound business model to guide their operations. “NCDMB gave you a nudge. You ought to have taken that and pushed to the next level.”
He invited serious players in the barites value chain to approach the Board with bankable proposals, which could be funded through the Nigerian Content Intervention Forum (NCI Fund). According to him, the Board’s plan is to build capacities and turn some serious players into world class manufacturers of barites.
The Executive Secretary recalled that “from the inception of the Board in 2010 to date, the issue of utilization of Nigerian barites has been on the table and significant milestones have been achieved with the active collaboration and support of key industry players. As a matter of urgency, we must move to the next level by ensuring utilization of local barites.”
“Being a development agency the Board invested in a modular refinery; we are also ready to partner with good investors to ensure local production of barites.”
He noted that optimal production and utilization of locally produced barites in oil and gas operations will create jobs and stem capital flight, as the oil industry spends a minimum of $35 million annually on the importation of barites.
In this response, some stakeholders said they had not made the required investments because of low demand for their products. They maintained that unless existing producers were patronized, there would not be incentive to invest more.
The President of AMAPOB, Mr. Stephen Alao appreciated the Board’s support for the utilization of local barites. He lamented that the country has huge deposits of barites and other mineral resources but there was low patronage from operating and service companies.
First Vice President, AMAPOB, Mr. Mike Mku, said the barite being produced in Nigeria met the grade demanded by the oil and gas sector and were enough to meet their demand.