May 26, 2022

Ban on EU funding for fossil fuel project remains – official

By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

Nigeria’s hope of attracting fresh cash from Europe for the oil and gas sector received a setback yesterday with the European Union insisting that restriction on using its funds for fossil projects is still in place.

Low investments and oil pipeline vandalism has limited Nigeria’s oil production despite huge rise in price internationally.

Speaking at Nextier Power Dialogue in Abuja on Wednesday night with the theme: ‘What is required to meet Nigeria’s climate targets’, Head of Section, Green and Digital Economy Section, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Inga Stefanowicz said despite the rising cost of energy in Europe due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ban on funding for fossil project has not changed.

Stefanowicz noted that while the push by the Nigerian government for more investment in the petroleum industry is understandable, the EU is determined to move away from fossil fuel in line with the global push to reduce carbon emission.

She stated that changes in energy sources in Europe were evolutionary rather than revolutionary and that has taken years of structural reforms to achieve.

According to her, “For Nigeria, I think the fundamental question is at the core of sustainable economic development and I can understand the focus of the Nigerian government on the use of gas as a transition fuel. There are ways, like in clean cooking energy that the EU can help and we did work with the Office of the Vice President to assist in the clean cooking programme.

“But unfortunately, the message from the (EU) headquarters is that our ban on fossil fuel funding is not going anywhere. That is why I am saying that we cannot finance fossil projects as an organization but the ban does not include private companies investments and engagements”, she added.    

On his part, Zakari Aliyu, Management Partner at Business Process Consult, stated that Nigeria’s quest for renewable power sources should be focused on utility scale solar energy.

Aliyu pointed out that it was impossible for Nigeria to achieve industrialization and economic growth using the solar home system.

“Utility scale is the best way to achieve these energy targets and also provide the right energy access. You know there are problems around funding the infrastructures but if you are looking at the fastest and most efficient model you really have to back utility scale”, he added.