From Adewale Sanyaolu, Abuja
As part of efforts to attain the full potential in the oil and gas sector, the Federal Government has disclosed plans to create a new regulator to be known as Petroleum Regulatory Authority (PRA).
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, announced the plan during his presentation at the ongoing 10th International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) in Abuja, yesterday.
The Minister said the new independent PRA to be established will be empowered with sufficient capacity to regulate the petroleum industry.
According to him, the new agency will cover the activities of existing petroleum regulatory authorities as well as new responsibilities and carry out economic, competition, safety, licensing, investigating, technical and monitoring of the gas sector.
Government, he said, will remain a commercial operator with full legal separation of the midstream from upstream alongside the legal separation of gas infrastructure from gas marketing while ensuring that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) are legally restrained from acting as barriers to private sector growth and expansion. On licensing regime, he said a simplified licensing regime will be introduced in the oil and gas sector for all operators in the gas value chain, adding that investors in the upstream sector will be encouraged to focus their activities strictly in that area.
To achieve the set goals, he said government has developed a draft national gas policy, which will be released today to stakeholders’ for consultation, adding that that will help craft the final policy document to will be released subsequently.
The draft gas policy, he said, promotes a competitive environment for both new and existing investors while setting policy goals for medium to long term plans.
In his presentation titled, “Delivering on the Natural Gas Promise to the Nation”, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, said the gas industry in Nigeria has made progress in the delivery of its promise to the nation.
Baru said the gas sector generated over $50 billion of revenues to the nation principally through Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and supported daily generation of up to 5GW of power.
Others include delivering gas to fertiliser plants, supplying compressed natural gas to over 10,000 cars and Dangote trucks, supplying about 400mmscf of gas to industries and commercial concerns while creating millions of jobs.
Baru, however, added that despite the modest progress made so far, there was still huge untapped potential for growth in the gas sector.