By Michael Eboh
The Federal Government, yesterday, raised alarm over the shortfall in the supply of gas especially in the Northern part of the country, saying it will look into other alternative source of gas supply.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed this at the ongoing Nigerian Gas Association, NGA, 11th International Conference and Exhibition in Abuja, stressing that government is working hard to address the huge gas challenges witnessed in the northern part of the country.
Kachikwu, who was represented by his Senior Technical Adviser, Upstream and Gas, Mr. Gbite Adeniji, said the country can no longer tolerate a situation where 11 power plants across the country would be forced to shut down, once there is a disruption in gas supply through the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System, ELPS.
He said: “The Federal Government is serious about taking gas to the northern region of the country, through the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK, gas pipeline, so as to address the huge economic challenges witnessed in the region.
“As a government, you want to ensure that you have robustness in supply sources and robustness on delivery system. The position we have taken is that we have to look at as many options as possible in terms of supply sources.
“Today, we are very dependent on gas supply from the Niger Delta. The policy position is that we have to look at other terrains to see what is possible. We have discovered huge amount of gas resources in the offshore. Hence, we must ensure that by the end of this quarter, we settle the issues of the contractual framework that would help us unlock those gas resources, so that we have options.
“It just does not do well that once the ELPS goes down, 11 power plants and many industrial enterprises also go down with them. That is not the system. There is a huge part of investment in there, but the reality of our life in Nigeria is that it goes down with them. The planning is that we have to create options to the ELPS for Lagos.”
Kachikwu further emphasised the strategic importance of the AKK pipeline project, noting that the key was to ensure that the project is delivered in a manner that gives confidence to the upstream that there is viable anchor projects to keep it going.
Also speaking, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, lamented the vandalisation of gas pipelines, stating that some oil and gas well had been completely shutdown, and would never resume operations, because of pipeline vandalisation.
He said, “I need to bring to the fore some of our key challenges in the gas sector. Believe me; it has not been all that rosy. Today, we face the challenge of pipeline vandalism which has led to shut-in of some of our wells. For some wells, they will never come back on-stream while for others, additional investments will be required to bring them back to production.