The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that rocked the world has some positive impact on the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
The minister said COVID-19 made Nigerians to take over the running of the oil and gas industry.
Sylva made this known at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum on Sunday in Abuja.
According to him, â€œAs a country, the problem during the lockdown was that most of our workers in the oil and gas sector are expatriates; most of them went back to their countries because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
â€œThey have to rush out so that they will be locked down in their countries and when that happens, it means that we lost a lot of expatriate personnel.
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â€œBut the good side of COVID-19 for us is that our Nigerians were able to step into their shoes.
â€œAnd now, we have discovered in the oil industry that Nigerians can run our industry and we have also realised that it is better to encourage Nigeriansâ€™ participation because we donâ€™t know what is going to happen tomorrow.
â€œIf another COVID-19 strikes again, how are we going to survive? So we deliberately encouraged Nigeriansâ€™ participation in the industry, in case any other disaster, we know that Nigerians will be there to run our industry.â€™â€™
Sylva noted that though COVID-19 hit other sectors of the economy, the oil and gas sector was the worst hit as the global price of oil crashed drastically.
The minister said, â€œYou know that one of the first things that happened with COVID-19 was the lockdowns and during the lockdowns, most people were not going out, planes were not flying, cars not running and you know that that is where our own business gets our market.
â€œIf airplanes are not flying, if cars are not running, the demand for crude oil collapses. So you can imagine that we really suffered. That is why the crude oil prices crashed.
â€œThe refineries were not even evacuating their refined product because nobody was buying and driving their cars.
â€œSo, the refineries shut down and nobody was buying crude oil; that was the effect COVID-19 had on our sector.â€™â€™