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By Clara Nwachukwu, in Houston, Texas
Federal Government has said that it will continue to encourage robust partnership between the multinational and indigenous companies operating in Nigeria's petroleum industry.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, made the promise on Monday, while declaring open the Nigerian stand at the kick-off of the four-day Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston Texas, United States.

She said that such cooperation and collabora-tions will be needed in the industry for a very long time, in view of the roles each played in the industry.

She said: 'We will continue to give aggressive and robust support to our indigenous operators and service providers, while at the same time acknowledging the technological wherewithal and financial expertise and partnership that our multinationals and our foreign partners bring.

'We will expect that they continue with that for a long time because there are partners across the board.'

The minister attributed recent successes and breakthroughs by indige-nous companies to the advent of the Nigerian Content Act 2010, saying that there was likely to be an industrial revolution over the next three years if the indigenous operators and service providers continued with the tremendous pace they were making in the oil and gas sector.

She added: 'I can only imagine what will happen in the oil and gas industry over the next three years if we continue to do what we are doing. I can assure you that as government representative in the sector, we will continue to aggressively and robustly support the indigenous operators and service providers in the oil and gas sector to the best of our ability as we go forward.'

PETAN speaks
Notwithstanding the minister's assurances, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, coordinators of the Nigerian contingent and exhibitions at the OTC, however, argued that Nigerian companies might not be able to continue with the anticipated progress on account of lack of funding and requisite capacity.

President of PETAN, Mr. Emeka Ene, told journalists that capitalisation or funding was a real big challenge, even as capacity remained a key issue.

He said: 'The key challenge remains capitalisation. You know that before industrialisation can occur, you must have the required amount of capital inflow. The real challenge of capacity is not the lack of know-how, it is the absence of capital to build the infrastructure that is needed.'

Ene argued that Nigerian companies were playing a losing battle compared with their multinational counterparts who had access to these facilities at the very least costs.

He said: 'Nigerian companies have been playing a losing game. It is that simple because in global finance the world over, for a company competing with the Nigerian company located in United States and Europe, they are looking at one or two per cent maximum interest on very long term capital: five years, 10 years, 20 years capital.

'Nigerian companies are dealing with 20-25 per cent interest on two-year capital, so it difficult to compete.'

Minister commends Sweetcrude
The Minister also commended Vanguard Media Limited for the May edition of its monthly Nigerian energy industry magazine, Sweetcrude, for the quality of its content.

The minister, who was apparently excited with the 120-page special edition for the Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, which took off on Monday at the Reliant Park, Houston Texas, United States, asked for more copies of the paper, which she would present to the President when she returned to Nigeria.

Sweetcrude is the official Nigerian publication for the OTC, and as has become the custom of Vanguard Media, the May edition is usually published in Houston Texas, to give advertisers, both the indigenous and multinational operators, the benefit of reaching the international community, with a view to promoting their businesses.

The Minister said: 'It (the conference) has encouraged us in government  because we can begin to see in living colours what we have pushed in policies actually being implemented and affecting the actual lives of people.'