Set up in 1971 as the Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC), the NNPC is a commercial international Corporation engaged in petroleum activities. It is envisioned to be a world class company driven by shared commitments to excellence, customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. In 1977, the NNOC was merged with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources under Decree No. 33. The former name, NNOC was thus changed to NNPC.

The same Decree No. 33 also established the Petroleum Inspectorate as an integral part of the NNPC. Its sole responsibilily is the statutory control and regulation of all industry activities - upstream and Downstream.

In addition to its exploration activities, the Corporation was given powers and operational interests in refining, petrochemicals and products transportation as well as marketing. Between 1978 and 1989, NNPC constructed refineries in Warn, Kaduna and Port Harcourt and took over the 35,000-barrel Shell Refinery established in Port Harcourt in 1965. In addition, the corporation constructed several kilometers of pipelines, pump stations and depots for distribution of petroleum products throughout the country and pioneered exploration activities in the Chad Basin around Maiduguri. In 1982, products retail, which hitherto was firmly in the hands of major multinational oil companies, was deregulated to accommodate independent (indigenous) marketers. In 1990, with a view to improving the country's oil and gas reserve base, oil exploration, which has progressively moved offshore Niger Delta, was further extended into frontier areas including the deep-offshore and the inland basins of Anambra, Benin (Dahomey) and Benue where acreages were allocated to several multinationals after signing a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with NNPC. The same year, a reinvigorated indigenous operatorship programme was introduced through the allocation of blocks to indigenous companies, who presently operate on sole risk basis. Currently, NNPC employs about 15,000 people nationwide.

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