Uche Usim, Abuja
With a global effort to embrace cleaner energy amid the relentless clamour for environmental protection, experts in the Nigerian oil and gas sector have called for greater domestic gas utilisation, urging the relevant authorities to leverage on its usefulness to boost industrialisation.
They insist that the time has come to begin a gradual discard of petrol considering its degrading impact on the environment, adding that the gas value chain holds an array of potential for the country.
The experts amplified their voices at a recent policy dialogue on reporting the oil and gas sector in Lagos.
Speaking at the event, the Principal Consultant at DRNL Consult Limited and Energy Consultant to Ogun State government, Mrs Ronke Onadeko noted that gas was not only a cheaper means of powering cars, factories and other relevant machinery but a robust driver of investments, an excellent job creator and major artery for foreign exchange inflow.
She advised the Nigerian government to take a cue from other countries working towards transiting from crude oil to gas to avoid being caught napping.
She maintained that the glory of crude oil was fast fading as the market for it was rapidly shrinking since fewer people across the globe are interested in the commodity.
She said: “We must move our mindset from thinking we are stuck in importing petroleum products and that there must be a subsidy. We can transit by moving our cars from petrol to gas, our industries from diesel and other fossil fuels to gas and we can move our generators and public transport to gas.
“I am not saying that the federal government should make a law asking everybody to convert to gas, we are doing better; the trains are coming up, public transport should change to gas, the federal government can ask every state government to assist to make that happen.
“Our natural resource abundance is in gas, not oil, by the time we have series of changes like that, you will find out that we are utilising more of our gas and because we don’t have to import it. We are going to be saving the government some huge foreign exchange. Gas investors will start investing in gas infrastructure and all kinds of things around gas.
“It will open up new business opportunities, employment will rise. Let’s move, expand, adapt because the world is changing, other countries are already doing it. While telling us about deregulation, the government should give us a timetable and the plans they have mapped out because there are going to be challenges, the transition is not going to be smooth”.
In his presentation, another oil and gas expert, Henry Adigun said that the government’s better understanding of the sector would yield more gains as more money could be made from gas than crude oil if well harnessed.
“We could create additional 35,000 jobs from gas, if gas were working properly, electricity cost will be much cheaper and Nigeria would have much leverage.”
He urged the government to back up several declarations of 2020 as a year of gas, by putting the right fiscal policies in place to attract and encourage investment in gas. He added that the local consumption of gas must be increased adding, “what determines gas production is the market; you don’t produce something for a market that does not exist.”
On the clamour for local refineries, Adigun explained that producing crude oil locally does not guarantee price efficiency. While noting that the problem was the supply and not the refinery, he said Nigeria’s refineries at good capacity would not meet 40 per cent of consumption.
Petroleum experts have continuously raised the alarm that Nigeria currently lives in false paradise by heavily depending on fast-depreciating crude oil receipts, when forward-looking oil-producing countries are speedily transitioning into cleaner energy with zero carbon emission, in line with global targets.
The energy transition initiative is a pathway towards the transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based (crude oil) to zero-carbon by 2050. At its core is the need to reduce energy-related carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions to curb the ruinous effects of climate change.