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By Clara Nwachukwu
The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, NPD, have renewed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, for technical cooperation in the oil and gas industry, which began in year 2000.

This is part of the fall out of a two-day brain storming session, which took place at DPR Headquarters in Lagos.

During the meeting, representatives from both sides highlighted mutually derived benefits from the scheme, and also recounted indices of sectoral progress in both countries that encouraged a renewal.

Although there was a two-year break, both parties came to the realisation that it would be in their mutual interest to revive the project, and consequently, agreed that the expired MoU should be replaced with a programme agreement between Nigeria and Norway.

New MoU
The new agreements will essentially be anchored on a broad-based review of the critical project requirements of the DPR, to be determined after all divisional presentations on proposed projects would have been harmonised and presented for review by the NPD.

Furthermore, the cooperation will also involve capacity building and skills acquisition. To engender this however, a comprehensive overview of the high value impact this had on the staff of the Department will be highlighted with a view to justifying its continuation in the new agenda.

Under the agreements, the Director, DPR, Mr. Osten Olorunsola, would, in due course, facilitate an expedited ministerial approval of the programme agreement between both countries, while it is equally anticipated that the NPD anchor, in conjunction with the Royal Norwegian Embassy would expedite similar action at the other end.

Objectives of cooperation
The objectives of the cooperation are to;
* share regulatory knowledge and competence
* improve regulatory controls by sharing global best practices

* develop policies and strategies for better administration of Nigeria's petroleum resources

* build on cultural data set, system and guidelines for data reporting, and,

* enhance safety and monitoring competence.
Old agreements
The first phase of the 2000 MoU, which was signed by the oil ministers of both countries expired in 2010, and covered technical cooperation in areas such as petroleum activities monitoring, data acquisition and resource management, resources management and metering.

By 2005 the cooperation was expanded by the Norwegian Government to also include the environment and safety management in oil and gas.

'The main objective of the agreement is to assist in petroleum administration in Nigeria. At the same time, we see that such an institutional cooperation can also make a positive contribution to the presence of the Norwegian oil and gas industry in Nigeria,' said the NPD's Project Manager, Mr. Steinar Nja.

It was also agreed that to further bolster this new pact, and to ensure that it gets full strategic support critical to its enduring success, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Abuja will be fully incorporated into the organisational structure at the steering level.

Thereafter, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners, INTSOK, for several years had been organising Technical seminars in Nigeria in co-operation with DPR under the aegis of The Nigerian - Norwegian MoU.

NEITI supports agreements
The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, has expressed support for the DPR and NPD cooperation, thus making it a tripartite agreement.

This is aimed at strengthening inter-departmental cooperation in achieving the national objective of ensuring transparency and accountability in the processes of yielding optimum revenue from the nation's oil and gas industry.

The Executive Secretary, NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who led the team expressed appreciation to the DPR management for extending unbridled cooperation to her agency over the years.

She noted that NEITI's progress in its mandate was due in part, to DPR's support especially in the area of data availability through Department's National Data Repository, NDR platform.

It was further agreed that DPR would equally support the development of NEITI capacity, particularly in the use of data available on the NDR platform.

Accordingly, DPR shall continue to support NEITI's periodic audit activities by supplying all relevant information required, as well as develop the revenue transparency watchdog's data portal at the NDR for seamless access to relevant production.

It was further agreed that contracts under the Oil for Development, OfD, in this second phase of the cooperation shall be extended to incorporate NEITI.

In this regard, a tripartite DPR/NEITI/NDR crude measurement process audit exercise will be organised. NEITI shall provide the 2009-2011 audit templates to DPR for review.

Also, a DPR/NEITI working committee shall be formed for the administration of the inter-agency interface on the DPR-NPD OfD collaboration.