The former Venezuelan Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr. Alirio Parra, who passed on a few days ago, was a good friend of African nations, especially Nigeria.
He wished Nigeria well and supported the development of many projects and programmes in the nation’s oil and gas industry.
One of them was the liberalisation of Nigeria’s downstream sector which he had said would open the market for all players.
Parra who was also a member of the global oil industry outfit, CWC Group had stated at a forum in 2016 that the liberation of the downstream sector was desired to bring about the sustainable development of the sector.
He had stated: ‘’One real important change in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria is the decision by the Federal Government to open the domestic market for competition.
‘’I am not necessarily talking about the elimination of subsidy, but opening the market, is a statement that oil is market driven and that with time, it is going to be to the benefit of Nigeria, and to all Nigerians.
‘’The opening of the market will in no time encourage more players to bring in petrol which would eventually lead to a new era of competitive pricing.
‘’Soon people will start to rush out to bring in oil thinking they are going to make a huge profit but as more oil comes into the market, things would start to stabilize and slowly it would find its own level at a price no one can forecast but surely it would be a competitive price. I think this is a historic decision and it is one of the smartest that Nigeria has taken in recent years.’’
He had added that: ‘’It is envisaged that the liberalization of the downstream sector will among other benefits ensure, market stability and Improve fuel supply situation through private sector participation that will eventually lead to the reduction in hoarding, smuggling and diversion of petrol.
‘’The new price regime is projected to stabilize price at the actual product price as well as encourage investments in both refining and retail aspects of the downstream business.’’
Unfortunately, the liberalisation which Dr. Parra had talked about was not sustained in Nigeria.
Today, the nation which suffers prolonged fuel scarcity still imports petroleum products through mainly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
But one of his wishes – the emergence of His Excellency, Muhammad Barkindo as the Secretary General of OPEC – was realised.
He had said: ‘’I think that Barkindo will make a fantastic Secretary General; he will return the dignity of Nigeria in the International service. He will be a Secretary General of huge category and an important figure in the international oil industry.
‘’Barkindo will provide a power balance approach. Based on his international energy experience, he knows how to deal with other oil producers, consumers, international oil companies and the international agencies, it will be a great achievement for him to be appointed next month.’’