By Ediri Ejoh

The Nigeria chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) has thrown its weight behind the new gas master plan which was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

This was disclosed at a briefing to introduce the Nigeria Annual International Conference & Exhibition – Society of Petroleum Engineers (NAICE – SPE) conference and exhibition holding between July 31and August 02, 2017 at Eko Hotel, Lagos.

Recall that the Federal Government, through the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had said that FEC has approved the masterplan.

His words: “I am just coming back from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting where I made a presentation on gas policy and the document was approved today. We need major changes in policy to make gas a hub of our economy. We must have a stream of earning between petroleum and gas in order to see an improvement in our economy or see the opportunities we are supposed to reap from the oil and gas sector. So, a lot need to happen in the midstream and upstream.

“Gas development remains the new horizon for opportunity. There is so much happening that needs to happen that should have happened yesterday and not begin to happen now in the gas sector. Gas is the future of this country in terms of infrastructure, support, members of staff training and re-training.”

However, the Chairman, Nigeria Council, SPE, Dr. Saka Matemilola, said that the policy was quite overdue.

“The gas master plan has been under the table for quite some time. No matter how imperfect it is, we need to start somewhere. We believe it is going to address certain issues, relating to infrastructure development, which is a very critical issue we have in the industry.

“As we are aware, we have a lot of gas in the east, offshore and the bulk of the industry and market is in the west. The connectivity issue is one of the things it is going to address.

“It will also address the gas pricing issues. It is an issue that has prevented entrepreneurs which would have invested in the gas industry. Now, we can now further the discussion on what next to do in the industry.

“It will also address the issue about contract sanctity, because that is what investors have been worried about. It has given cold feet to foreign investors. Also there are other areas that the development will bring about.”

Speaking also, Publicity Secretary, SPE Nigeria, Mr. Ernest Mkpasi, added that the recovery of the country’s economy is largely depended on gas development.

“Let us not forget that we sit on a very large gas reserves. If we are able to tap into our huge gas reserves, for country like ours, it will be a strong catalyst for industrialization in our country.

“It would impact on the economy which will translate to a lot of things including power, jobs, revenue and other development into the country. And if the sanctity of contracts and other issues are addressed in the gas industry, we should have improved power generation and supply, that would in turn boost the power generating companies who depends on gas to generate electricity.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the current crisis of crude price at the international market, the council Chairman, explained that: “Our theme which is ‘Riding the waves of Boom and Bust: Common Objectives, Diverse Perspectives’ will x-ray different stakeholders’ perspectives for addressing the challenges the industry currently faces and how to take forward the learnings.

“The current trend of oil price has shown that we should be looking at a ‘lower for longer’ operating model. Thus we will encourage discussions on key areas that contribute directly to production costs, from the perspectives of the regulators, operators and service providers with a view to take forward the shared best practices.

“It is not the first time we have had to experience downturn in the oil price. But each time it comes, we all react differently.

“We would explore what is needed for the regulators so that businesses could be made easy as well as the economy. Also, we specifically choose coal development because when we have small reservoirs, it is not economical to develop it individually.

“And so, we brought in the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR and say this is one of the areas we can also help to ensure that we are able to develop some of our small pulls of reserves.

He further explained that while the big companies are able to focus on those reservoirs, “they also need to look at those small reservoirs and how they can produce reservoirs in a very economic manner and the strategies for that. And for DPR, they need to explore available technologies to be used.”

He added that in such crisis as observed presently, there is need to strengthen strategies geared toward sharpening young professionals and others who have been affected by job crunch and other challenges, as well as possible way forward.

However, he noted that a number of plenary sessions during the conference have been designed to dissect the theme further providing opportunities for a diverse team of industry technocrats and heads of government regulatory agencies from within Nigeria, Africa and beyond to share very valuable insights.



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