…How He Earned His Place in Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Train

Engr. Farouk Ahmed Chief Executive Officer of The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) is one of the best hands in the Nigerian oil and gas industry in terms of training, expertise and experience. He has held top management positions in the industry, both within Nigeria and outside the country.

There was a minor drama to his appointment by former President Muhammadu Buhari in September Ȃ1.The announcement of Ahmed’s appointment was contained in a letter by the President dated September 28, 2021 to the then Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. In the letter, the President said Ahmed’s appointment would replace that of Sarki Auwalu, the incumbent Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), whose name had earlier been sent to the Senate for confirmation.

“In accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021,” the President wrote, “I hereby forward for confirmation by the Senate the nomination of Engineer Farouk Ahmed as Chief Executive Officer for the Board of the Nigerian Midstream/Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority as a replacement of Eng. Sarki Auwalu earlier forwarded.”

Many industry operators hailed the decision on the ground that Ahmed’s appointment amounted to putting a round peg in a round hole. Since assuming the mantle of leadership at NMDPRA, Ahmed has been living up to the expectations of the government and the stakeholders. That is obviously why he was reappointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who mandated him and other members of the Board and Management of the Authority to discharge their duties by upholding the highest standards of transparency, discipline, and patriotism in line with his administration’s drive to enhance the role of the gas sector in achieving robust and inclusive economic growth for Nigeria.

Since becoming the Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed has been leading NMDPRA to fulfill its mandate as the regulator of the midstream and downstream sectors of the Nigerian petroleum industry. In March 2023, NMDPRA unveiled six regulations that would govern the activities of the midstream and downstream sectors of the Nigerian petroleum industry. The six regulations address issues such as petroleum transportation and shipment, assignment or transfer of licenses and permits, gas pricing for domestic demand and delivery, natural gas pipeline tariffs, petroleum measurement and midstream and downstream petroleum operations.

Later in July, the agency announced the introduction of four new additional regulations aimed at addressing environmental and safety concerns in the midstream and downstream petroleum sector. The new regulations include the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Environmental Regulation 2023, designed to ensure that environmental standards and practices are upheld across midstream and downstream petroleum operations.

Others are the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Safety Regulation 2023, which prioritizes safety measures and procedures; Midstream and Downstream Decommissioning and Abandonment Regulation 2023, which outlines the requirements and procedures for the decommissioning and abandonment of petroleum facilities; and the Midstream and Downstream Environmental Remediation Fund Regulation 2023, which sets out the establishment and financial contribution of the Fund for operations.

The fund aims to provide resources for the cleanup, rehabilitation or management of negative environmental impact from petroleum operations nationwide. These regulations, according to the agency, will enhance value, create an enabling environment and deepen activities in the midstream and downstream sectors for the benefit of Nigerians.

This was followed up in December by a stakeholders’ forum on regulations in Abuja where it was announced that 16 regulations had been drafted and gazetted and another set of four regulations were waiting to be gazetted. The Authority has advised operators in the industry to adhere strictly to the regulations.

A graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA, Ahmed obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering Technology, with cumulative professional and career experience spanning over 34 years in the American technological space and in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

He commenced his career as a Logic Board Verification Engineer at Apple Computer Incorporated, which was later changed to Apple Incorporated, in Dallas, Texas, USA.

He later returned to Nigeria to participate in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. Thereafter, he joined the then Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), now Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), where he rose through the ranks to hold top management positions in the organization. Some of the positions Ahmed occupied in his over three decades career in the oil and gas industry include: Senior Crude Oil Trader, Duke Oil Incorporated; Manager, Crude Oil Export Programming and Nominations, Shipping and Terminals (Crude Oil Marketing Division-NNPC); Executive Director, Commercial, Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC); Managing Director, NiDAS Marine Limited; Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Authority (PPPRA); Managing Director, PPMC; and Special Adviser (Downstream) to Group Managing Director (GMD), NNPC.

The NMDPRA boss was a member of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Shippers Council and has also been the MD/CEO, Hauwath Consulting Limited.  Ahmed is a Member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) as well as a Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA). He is also a registered member of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).