Buhari, Sylva, Barkindo foresee gas as economic growth driver

President Muhammadu Buhari; Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; and the Secretary-General, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Dr. Sanusi Barkindo, have underscored the need to drive the country’s economic development by tapping Nigeria’s enormous gas resources.

The president, who yesterday, virtually launched “The Decade of Gas in Nigeria,” at the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), held in Abuja said given the country’s potential of about 600 trillion cubic feet of gas, the commodity has the capacity to diversify Nigeria’s economy if deployed appropriately.

He pledged that his administration would fully utilise the enormous gas resources in the country to grow the economy and drive industrialisation within 10 years.

According to him, the rising global demand for cleaner energy sources has offered Nigeria an opportunity to exploit gas resources for the good of the country and the government intends to seize the opportunity.

He said his administration had prioritised gas development and recorded remarkable progress, adding that Nigeria is a gas nation with a little oil, but the country has focused on oil over the years.

He said: ”Before the declaration of Year 2020 as The Year of Gas, this administration had shown commitment to the development of Nigeria’s vast gas resources and strengthening of the gas value chain by reviewing and gazetting policies and regulations to enhance operations in the sector as encapsulated in the National Gas Policy of 2017.

”Our major objective for the gas sector is to transform Nigeria into an industrialised nation with gas playing a major role and we demonstrated this through enhanced accelerated gas revolution.”

Buhari added that Nigeria has consistently focused on crude oil to the detriment of its gas resources.

According to the president, Nigeria must take advantage of its vast gas resources and strengthen the gas value chain by reviewing and gazetting policies and regulations to enhance operations in the sector as encapsulated in the national gas policy of 2017.

Buhari listed the commercialisation of gas flares, development of industrial and transport gas markets and increasing gas to power as some of the ways the country is taking advantage of the commodity.

He listed projects like the National Gas Expansion Programme, autogas policy and the construction of the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline as other ways Nigeria is deploying its huge gas potential.

”After a thorough review of these laudable achievements and successes in the gas space, we acknowledge that Nigeria still has more work to do in the gas space.

”This has led the federal government to begin a more proactive push towards gas development. This initiative will ensure further optimal exploitation and utilisation of the country’s vast gas resources,” the president stated.

He said Nigeria LNG, which contributes about one per cent to GDP, generated $114 billion in revenues over the years, $9 billion in taxes, $18 billion in dividends to the federal government and $15 billion in feed gas purchase.

These achievements, he added, were accomplished with 100 per cent Nigerian management and 95 per cent Nigerian workforce.

In his remarks, Sylva stated that Nigeria’s gas resources are the most extensive in Africa and in the top 10 globally.

He, however, lamented that in the area of domestic utilisation of gas to power the economy, there was a chronic shortage.

He said despite COVID-19, a venture partnership between the federal government and international oil majors closed a deal on its $6 billion Train 7 gas expansion project expected to lift the country’s LNG output by more than 30 per cent.

The minister stated that the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline, a 614-kilometre-long natural gas project estimated to cost $2.8 billion, was also kick-started as a response to the infrastructural deficit in the gas sector.

Sylva added that in 2020, Nigeria’s gas-flare commercialisation programme, a deliberate strategy to focus on natural gas shortlisted 200 companies to bid for the development of 45 gas flare sites.

Also, the Nigerian Gas Transportation Network Code, which aims at enhancing the availability and affordability of domestic gas was launched to create guidelines for agreements between gas sellers, transporters and buyers.

Barkindo expressed the joy that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that seeks to reform Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is being considered by the National Assembly for passage into law.

He reiterated that oil and gas are still expected to make up over 50 per cent of the global energy mix forecast period in 2045 according to OPEC projections.

“In fact, global primary energy demand is set to increase by 25 per cent in the period to 2045. The world needs more energy and Nigeria, as a reliable and dependable supplier of hydrocarbons to global markets, has a key role to play in this regard,” he said.

According to him, at the same time, there is the ongoing energy transition and the need to achieve it in a sustainable way, balancing the needs of people in relation to their social welfare, the economy, and the environment.

“In the oil sector alone, upstream oil capital expenditure could fall by more than 30 per cent in 2020, a shrill wake-up call, exceeding the annual dramatic declines seen in the severe industry downturn in 2015 and 2016,” he added.

Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari, in his welcome address, said the pre-summit conference was coming at the most crucial time, as the world transits to cleaner energy, and Nigeria is set to play a strategic role in the new world energy order.

Kyari stated that technology and innovation are facilitating a new global energy order aimed at decarbonising the world and safeguarding the climate.

He added that renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, which would be key components of the new energy mix, are largely influenced by seasons and are non-transportable to demand centres where they are in short supply.

According to him, Nigeria as a gas nation with over 203 trillion standard cubic feet (tscf) of proven gas reserves, is monetising the huge gas resources spurred by numerous policy and industry interventions since 2016.

This, he stated, culminated in the declaration of 2020 as the year of gas and progressing into the decade of gas from 2021.

Kyari stated that NNPC and its partners have embarked on some strategic projects to deepen delivery of gas to the domestic market and elevate the build-up of greater potentials for export.

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