By Yemie Adeoye
NIGERIAâ€™S present gas reserves may have gotten up to 600 trillion cubic feet (tcf), away from the much reported 187 (tcf) , if a report said to be issued by the United States Geological Survey is anything to go by.
Special Adviser to Mr. President on Petroleum Matters, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah stated this during the recently held Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston,Texas, USA, while delivering a paper to a gathering of Nigerians from home and the diaspora, as well as prospective investors in the oil and gas sector on Nigeria oil industry reform, challenges and enduring opportunities.
According to him, Nigeria is endowed with huge gas reserves and it is believed that the country is more a gas country than oil.
â€œCurrent estimate of proven gas reserves is about 187 trillion cubic feet, which makes Nigeria the worldâ€™s 7th largest gas reserves holder in the world. However, a US Geological Survey, USGS study estimates that the gas reserves potential in Nigeria could be as high as 600 trillion cubic feet.â€
The Presidential aide further stated that even presently, there has not been a dedicated exploration for gas and all the proven gas reserves were discovered during exploration for oil, and as such, it is not unlikely that with focused gas exploration, the USGS estimate of gas reserves can be realised. This will easily put Nigeria in the league of top four gas reserves holders in the world even as the country remains very rich in natural gas liquids.
â€œAs a matter of fact, the Nigeria oil and gas industry has continued to evolve since its inception in the fifties. The time, from the late fifties to early seventies was a period marked by control of the industry by international oil companies.
State involvement was restricted to quasi regulation, primarily for control of price of refined products, collection of fees, rentals and royalties.
Active state involvement started in the early seventies, and was marked by Nigeria joining the OPEC member countries.
During this period, the Nigerian National Oil Company was established, and government acquired 60% interest equity participation in the assets and operations of the international oil companies for the first time.
Starting from the late seventies to late eighties, the industry witnessed the era of expansion, growth and reforms. The Ministry of Petroleum Resources was merged with the Nigerian National Oil Company to form the present Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. Internal restructuring of NNPC and commercialisation of its operations started in the late eighties. NNPC was subsequently transformed into a holding company with 11 subsidiaries, with the transfer of the Petroleum Inspectorate to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.â€
He noted that despite the evolution, reforms and internal restructuring, the public sector of the industry has yet to fully meet the aspirations of the Federal Government and key stakeholders as I already indicated.â€
According to him, the existing structure of the industry and enabling legislation were no longer consistent with global standards. In parallel, the private sector of the upstream sector of the industry, dominated and operated by the international oil and gas companies (in joint ventures with NNPC) equally continued to face new challenges mainly with funding and cash call problems, as well as challenges in the Niger-Delta region.
â€œIt is for this and many other reasons that the Federal Government of Nigeria embarked on a journey of a comprehensive reform aimed at re-positioning Nigeriaâ€™s oil and gas industry to foster a long-term sustainability of the sector, ensuring greater efficiency and effectiveness to meet the aspirations of Nigerians and all the stakeholders, and also ensure global competitiveness.
“We also know that the oil and gas sector accounts for about 30 â€“ 40% of GDP, 80% of government revenues and 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and is also the backbone of Nigeriaâ€™s national development plan.
“Efficient management of the industry will therefore have a significant impact not only on the well-being and future prospects of the Nigerian economy, but also on the security and stability of global energy supply and the growth of global economy.”
In order to ensure that individuals and corporate organisations enjoy full benefits of their participation at this yearâ€™s edition, the chairman said, there was a Joint PETAN-US Commercial Services Business Matchmaking seminar on Wednesday, May 6, at the Reliant Center.Â Achievements ofÂ companies with unique innovations and breakthroughÂ in technological advancement were recognised during the PETAN/OTC industry award dinner on May 5. There was also Networking, Golf outing at Great Wood Golf Club, Sugar LandÂ on Thursday, May 7, 2009 organised by PETAN as part of the annual event. PETAN has been promoting the development of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria through the organisation and participation in conferences, seminars, workshops and creation of opportunities for Nigerian companies to develop in a competitive industry market.The association has been organising and hosting the Nigerian pavilion at the Offshore Technology Conference, OTC in Houston, Texas, since 2005.