Deregulation Of Downstream Oil And Gas Industry Business Essay

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This study began with a historical background of deregulation, government motives and the benefits the deregulation of downstream oil and gas industry will deliver to Nigerians. The literature review provided an assessment of the opinion of two schools of thought: the opposing and the supporting group for deregulation. Their different views gave insight into the various reasons why government should or should not deregulate the industry. The purpose of the study is aimed to answer three questions:

(1) What informed government's deregulation of the downstream oil and gas industry and is it the only solution in Nigeria's economic environment?

2) How can the government improve the implementation of the deregulation of the downstream oil and gas industry to achieve the actual policy objective?

(3) In what way can government encourage the private sector to fully participate in the downstream oil and gas deregulation exercise?

In order to answer these questions, this study solicited the views of Nigerians and some industry professionals through self-administered questionnaires. Response by industry professionals addressed the perspective of strategic management, implementation, innovation and competitive forces. The response from other Nigerians addressed the perspective of effects, challenges and prospects of deregulation. By using broad theoretical approach, this study has demonstrated that a wider scope and broader assessment of the downstream oil and gas sector deregulation can be achieved. The theoretical framework has also been empirically tested through the questionnaire response and hypotheses that were carried out and it has proven to be effective in understanding the dynamics of the industry's deregulation programme.

The responses provided by industry professional's answers the first question on what informed government's deregulation of the downstream oil and gas industry and is it the only solution in Nigeria's economic environment. The second and third questions were also answered by them. Two respondents were not in support of deregulation, while the other two were in favour of the government's deregulation programme, stressing that deregulation is the only remedy for the problems in the oil and gas industry. Their views on the implementation of deregulation, control mechanism by regulatory agencies, innovation and competitive forces shows similar response. They feel government is not implementing deregulation properly and suggested a fully deregulated downstream oil and gas sector as against the current partial deregulation where NNPC is still involved in marketing activities and fixing product prices. On the aspect of government encouraging the oil marketers to ensure the success of deregulation, respondent (B) suggested providing loan facilities for them while, respondent (C) felt that providing a level playing field for equity and equal participation will drive the success of deregulation.

From the analyses on quantitative data which illustrate the views and opinions of 150 Nigerians on the effects, challenges and prospects of the downstream oil and gas industry deregulation, we can infer that there is no significant difference in the response in support that deregulation would deliver positive effects to Nigerians and those against. The response on if challenges in the industry will hinder the success of deregulation also indicates no significant difference between those in support and those not in support. However, the response to the prospects of deregulation shows a significant difference in support that deregulation of the sector will facilitate better economic prospects and opportunities.

In conclusion, based on the responses and views of Nigerians towards the downstream oil and gas deregulation, the study findings shows that deregulation of the sector is not properly implemented by the regulatory agencies. It also shows that the sector has been transformed to become competitive and market driven. It further reveals that the sector is not fully deregulated to enable market forces determine price, rather government is still fixing petroleum product prices. The overall result indicates that Nigerians are fully in support of deregulation of the sector, believing it will deliver positive effects, reduce challenges in the sector and create better prospects and opportunities.

6.2 Recommendation

The purpose of this study is to examine the effects, challenges and prospects of the deregulation of the downstream oil and gas industry in Nigeria. To establish this objective, an analysis was conducted to evaluate findings on the effects, challenges and prospects. The study also examined deregulation implementation, competitive forces and innovation in the industry. This study recommendation would be based on the research findings, which includes the following:

The response from staff (C) as shown in the appendix, suggests that the government is yet to fully deregulate the industry and NNPC is also still involve in product importation and distribution. He argued that the intending benefits of deregulation can only be achieved if the government totally discontinues direct participation and concentrates its efforts on the regulatory role. Against this background, this study recommends that government should display seriousness in implementing complete deregulation in the sector in accordance with the original policy framework. More oil marketers should be licensed, opportunities for free entry and exist should be allowed to encourage competition, equal participation and equity should be practiced without any sacred cow and more importantly, the demand and supply mechanism should be allowed to determine prices. This is the conventional concept that is obtainable in most countries where deregulation is practiced.

The need for government to encourage and support oil marketers is also recommended in order to assist them acquire loan facilities. This view is consistent with the response from respondent (A) and (B) that suggested the provision of loan schemes most especially to indigenous oil marketers to grow in the industry. They argued that if governments wants to ensure that fuel scarcity is nipped in the bud, loan facilities should be granted to them to avoid supply lapses. This view is also supported by Kolawole (2012) who observes that probe by legislators of the sector reveals that the local content policy by way of encouraging indigenous operators are not enforced as claimed by The Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISOAN). The ISOAN accused the NNPC of deliberately side-lining Nigeria ship owners from lifting fuel both locally and international. The practice by NNPC will not encourage the deregulation program. A non-discriminatory system should be enforced, especially to the local oil marketers and vessel owners.

Inefficiency and lack of integrity contributes largely to the major problems affecting the downstream oil and gas sector. Corruption is the main problem militating against the government policy agenda of deregulation (Auwal and Mamman, 2012). According to respondent (C) he posits that the government monitoring arm like the PPPRA, DPR NNPC and the security agents saddled with the responsibility of appraising and ensuring the success of deregulation are complete disappointment and have failed in their assigned responsibility because of their corrupt practices. This implies that government should fight corruption by ensuring that the agencies responsible for implementing and coordinating the deregulation program are monitored to ensure they discharge their jobs with integrity. Corrupt officers collaborating with fuel importing syndicates to frustrate government policies of proliferation of refineries in Nigeria should be fetched out, arrested and punished in order to serve as a deterrent to others.

To maintain competitive advantage under the industry's current deregulation platform requires innovative and strategic approaches to gain market position. This view corresponds with the observation made by the industry respondents on the high competitive nature of the sector. Hence, prompting them to carry out market intelligence to have a competitive edge over their competitors. Essentially, the oil marketers should be more proactive by engaging in technological innovations, training courses, research and development in order for them to remain competitive. They should also invest in high tech facilities like oil discharge jetties, pipeline networks for oil and gas product distribution to their customers. According to Barney and Zajac (1994) competitive strategies depends significantly on firms resources and capabilities. However, if the strategies are not adopted, the capabilities are more likely to emerge during periods of turbulence and market instability. Hart (1995) also argues that innovative strategies can lead to the development of firm's specific capabilities which can be a source of competitive advantage.

The analysis of the downstream oil and gas industry using Porters Five forces framework shows that the threats of new entrants is low. The reason as observed by respondent A and B is that the sector is capitally intensive with the old oil marketers enjoying economies of scale and large customer loyalty. New entrants are struggling to penetrate the industry under the deregulated environment. The analysis also reveals that threats of substitute to petroleum products is low. According to respondent C there is over dependence on petroleum products in the country without any foreseeable alternative in the near future. The bargaining power of suppliers as observed by respondent A is high, NNPC is mainly the dominant importer and distributor with only few other importers participating. This study recommends that for deregulation to succeed, the government should promote alliances and mergers among the smaller marketers in the industry to enable them take market position. Government should also think of diversification into renewable energy sources like wind energy, tidal waves and solar energy which is in high abundance in the country. This will reduce the high demand and over dependence on petroleum products. More oil marketers should be encouraged to get involved in products importation and distribution. The refineries should also be privatized for them to function properly and discourage importation. The adoption of these measures by the government will create the enabling environment for deregulation to succeed.

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