Blue and white collar workers of the Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited will turn up their sleeves and waltz across the offices this week. If you think they are in the Yuletide mood, you would be miles off the mark. There is a different and unique reason why the company and the staff are letting their airs down.
Recall that the company has had it rough this year. First, there were allegations that its phenomenal success in securing the juicy Strategic Alliance Agreement with the Nigerian Production Development Company was in breach of industry rules.
Under the agreement, Atlantic took charge of eight oil blocks. It was to provide funds, technical services, drill and sell crude oil.
To fund its mandate, it borrowed funds from financial institutions.
Second, it was said that it was unable to honour its obligations in the agreement to the regulatory authorities.
For these, industry rivals, seeking to oust it from its highly-coveted niche, pulled wool over the eyes of the public turning what were standard industry practices to criminal infractions.
Expectedly, a large dose of calumny went into the fray as the company was wrongly vilified for its business relations with the outgone administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
With such atomic bombshells, industry rivals thought it was only a matter of time before the country’s foremost indigenous drilling company would blow up and disappear from the petroleum sector.
But, as the saying goes, Man proposes; God disposes. Atlantic’s journey of survival began with a stroke of luck. The nation’s new helmsman, President Muhammadu Buhari, a former Minister of Petroleum whose tenure marked the commencement of the policy of encouraging indigenous companies to play strong roles in the hitherto foreign -dominated sector, saw through the intense rivalry that made competitors for production licenses go to the sewers to fight each other.
It would be recalled the the first phase of indigenisation of the oil sector began in the mid-70s when President Buhari, then a colonel in the Nigerian Army, was a member of the ruling council. Besides, the president had assured the indigenous petroleum sector that he would do everything to support them to consolidate the indigenous petroleum industry when they visited him recently.
Impeccable sources disclosed that the president decided to give the Atlantic a chance by demanding that it should present a plan showing how it would settle its debts and resolve all contending issues between it and the country’s oil managing parastatals and its creditors.
The plan, drawn by the company and submitted a month ago was finally approved by the Presidency last week and referred to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. ibe Kachikwu for implementation. Modalities for implementation of the approved plan and the investors involvement in the repayment plan have been the agenda for talks between the company and petroleum sector regulators.
Since the good news hit the corridors of the company, workers have been upbeat and looking forward to a tension -free Christmas season in recent times.
No doubt, the development is a great burden off chest of its board of directors. According to observers, the year has been very challenging to its business partners and investors who wondered why the rivalry in the oil sector should be so intense and desperate. They give kudos to President Buhari and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu for saving the company from the long knives of industry rivals, a step which has given encouragement to indigenous players in the oil industry.