October 23, 2023

How Nigeria missed out on high gas demand windfall – FG

How Nigeria missed out on high gas demand windfall – FG

…Africa Energy Bank targets cross border infrastructure

By Obas Esiedesa

THE Federal Government Monday admitted that Nigeria was ill-prepared to take advantage of the significant increase in the demand for natural gas by European countries following the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war last year.

Following the outbreak of the war and imposition of sanctions, Russia cut gas supply to European countries leading to a huge energy crisis and increased demand for alternative sources of gas.

With over 200trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserve and regarded as one of the leading gas resource countries in the world, Nigeria failed to reap from the huge rise in demand due to poor investments and lack of foresight.

Speaking at the 3rd Biennial International Conference on Hydrocarbon Science & Technology, ICHST 2003, organized by the Petroleum Training Institute, PTI, in Abuja, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo observed that Nigeria’s vast natural gas reserves remain largely under tapped for export and domestic markets.

The conference has the theme: The future of the oil and gas industry: Opportunities, challenges and development.

Mr. Ekpo noted that the country needs to do more to improve investment that would lead to increased gas production that would guarantee sustainable energy supply to its people and generate revenues for the government.   

According to him, “Recent world events like the Russian-Ukraine conflict accentuated the fragile nature of the dynamics of energy demand. With a particular reference to gas, Nigeria was inadequately prepared and did not seize the opportunities created by the increase in the demand for gas supply to Europe and other parts of the world.

“On our home front, there is the need to boost the domestic market for gas. Nigeria is known to be a gas-rich country rather than oil with a proven reserve of over 200tcf of gas. Local issues include inadequate infrastructure, unfair regulatory environment for gas, sabotage of pipelines and the inability to optimize value from abundant gas reserves”, he added.

On his part, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri tasked industry operators, experts and technologists to come up with solutions that would tackle challenges peculiar to the Nigerian environment including oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

In his keynote address, the Secretary General, Africa Petroleum Producers Organisation, APPO, Dr Farouq Ibrahim noted that given the huge energy shortfall in the continent, the planned Africa Energy Bank would focus mainly on providing finances for cross border energy infrastructures.

Dr. Ibrahim warned that it would be a huge mistake for African countries to abandon their hydrocarbon resources due to energy transition, adding that Africa must seek to make better use of its resources for economic development.

“While the world is committed to a speedy energy transition, Africa owes its people a duty to utilize its abundant oil and gas resources to provide them energy, which is the most potent catalyst for socio-economic development. In other words Africa must create a future for the oil and gas industry”.

He observed that “We have been made to believe that we are too poor to buy energy. So over 70 percent of the oil we produce daily is exported to those who are rich to buy it. Over 40 percent of the gas we produce is also exported outside Africa. Yet, our continent has the largest proportion of its people living in energy poverty, with over 600 million of its population living without access to electricity and 0ver 900 million without access to any form of modern energy for cooking or other domestic use.

“What we have failed to realize is that until we are able to energize the hundreds of millions living without energy, our quest for poverty alleviation shall remain a mirage. Energy is the biggest catalyst for economic transformation. Empower the people to access energy, not just to light their homes but also to create cottage industries and you will be shocked at the multiplier effect.

“Towards this end, Africa Energy Bank, shall aim to support the development of energy infrastructure, particularly the development of cross border energy infrastructure”.

Earlier, the Principal/CEO, PTI, Dr Henry Adimula explained that energy democratization “stands as a paramount concept. It entails the democratization of energy resources and technology, ensuring that clean and sustainable energy sources are accessible to all, regardless of their location or economic status”.