From Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his administration will leverage on Nigeria’s robust gas resources, currently standing at 600 trillion cubic feet, to urgently industrialize the country and ultimately diversify it away from petroleum, which is gradually being discarded for cleaner energy sources that gas provides.
This is as the Secretary-General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mr Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, hinted that projections show that from now till 2045, global investments of more than $12 trillion will be needed in the upstream, midstream and downstream in the gas sector.
Speaking in Abuja on Monday as he virtually launched “The Decade of Gas in Nigeria” initiative noted that the rising global demand for cleaner energy sources has offered Nigeria an opportunity to exploit gas resources for the good of the country.
He noted that all the opportunities provided by gas will be fully explored.
The President told participants at the Pre-Summit that while his administration has prioritized gas development and recorded remarkable progress, it is well known that Nigeria is a gas nation with a little oil, but the country has focused on oil over the years.
‘‘That is the paradox that this Administration decided to confront when we declared the year 2020 as “The Year of Gas” in Nigeria.
‘‘It was a bold statement to demonstrate the resolve of this Administration that gas development and utilization should be a national priority to stimulate economic growth, further improve Nigeria’s energy mix, drive investments, and provide the much-needed jobs for our citizens in the country.
‘‘Before the declaration of Year 2020 as The Year of Gas, this Administration had shown commitment to the development of Nigeria’s vast gas resources and strengthening of the gas value chain by reviewing and gazetting policies and regulations to enhance operations in the sector as encapsulated in the National Gas Policy of 2017.
‘‘Our major objective for the gas sector is to transform Nigeria into an industrialized nation with gas playing a major role and we demonstrated this through enhanced accelerated gas revolution,’’ he said.
Enumerating what his administration has done to energise the sector, the President said the development of gas infrastructure has commenced along with the domestic utilization of LPG and CNG, as well as the process of commercializing gas flares, development of industrial and transport gas markets, and increasing gas to power.
‘‘We also kick started other policies and projects like the National Gas Expansion Programme, Autogas policy and the construction of the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline.
‘‘After a thorough review of these laudable achievements and successes in the gas space, we acknowledge that Nigeria still has more work to do in the gas space.
‘‘This has led the Federal Government to begin a more proactive push towards gas development. This initiative will ensure further optimal exploitation and utilization of the country’s vast gas resources.
The President extolled the collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Nigeria LNG Limited to actualize the dream of transforming Nigeria with its massive gas resources.”
He described the NLNG as the Federal Government’s arrowhead in the reduction of gas flaring in Nigeria.
According to the President, NLNG, which contributes about one percent to GDP, has generated $114 billion in revenues over the years, $9 billion in taxes, $18 billion in dividends to the Federal Government and $15 billion in Feed gas Purchase.
The President noted that these achievements were accomplished with 100 percent Nigerian Management and 95 percent Nigerian workforce.
He also applauded NLNG for winning the award for outstanding business strategy, in 2020, for going ahead with Train 7 during the global pandemic.
‘‘The Ministry of Petroleum Resources and NNPC are in various regards setting the pace.
‘‘I would like to charge all other relevant MDAs on the need to partner with the international oil companies, the indigenous oil companies and financial institutions to actualize the dream of fully utilizing our gas resources to uplift our economy,’’ he said.
President Buhari affirmed that later this year, Nigeria will host the 4th International Petroleum Summit in Abuja.
President Buhari in his Presidential address said that the conference comes timely as a prelude to NIPS said that Nigeria has robust gas resources but focussed on oil for decades and that was the paradox it was prepared to confront.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva said the main objective of running a gas-powered economy by 2030 springs from the idea of ending gas flaring and turning it into revenue generation.
He noted that investments in gas infrastructure were ongoing like the 614km AKK pipeline project and others.
“NLNG closed the deal on the $10 billion Train 7 project. The AKK 614km costing $2.8 billion is to address infrastructure deficit in gas sector. We have shortlisted 200 companies to bid for gas flare sites.
“The Nigerian Gas Expansion Project (NGEP) was also unveiled and all these were to drive investments and boost economy. We must deal with energy poverty immediately by unleashing our gas resources.
“There will be challenges and President Buhari has the political will to address them as he is ready to use gas as an economic enabler”, Sylva assured.
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Resources (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari stated that the Nigerian gas masterplan was gradually and steadily being implemented.
Kyari noted that the conference comes at a good time as the world transits into newer energy, adding that Nigeria should play leadership roles in the new world order.
“Fossil fuels are giving way to wind and solar and other types of energy.
The Federal Government has committed huge resources to migrate into new energy, especially gas, to grow the economy. Efforts to diversify started in 2016 and 2020 was tagged year of gas.
We’ve rolled out autogas to ensure greater gas utilization is a reality”, he noted.
In his goodwill message, the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mr Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo stated that tackling emissions has many pathways that should all be explored.
“The oil and gas industries are part of the solution; we possess critical resources and expertise that can help unlock our carbon-free future. It is also important to remind ourselves of the historic plunge in oil and gas investments in 2020. In the oil sector alone, upstream oil capital expenditure could fall by more than 30% in 2020, a shrill wake-up call, exceeding the annual dramatic declines seen in the severe industry downturn in 2015 and 2016.
“I would like to commend the President for keeping faith with the requirements
of continued heavy investments, including critical gas projects, such as the Ajaokuta–Kaduna–Kano Natural Gas Pipeline, the Nigeria LNG Train 7 project and actively promoting several fertilizer blending plants across the country, supporting the ongoing agrarian revolution.
Nigeria’s ‘Decade of Gas’ initiative also shines a beacon of light on the importance of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), and the value of multilateralism. OPEC and the GECF have much in common. We have some of the same Member Countries, including Nigeria, share similar founding principles, and collaborate together.
Gas is vital to Nigeria’s future, as is oil. And both will be fuels of choice globally for the foreseeable future and instrumental in facilitating the energy transition.
“What is clear is that no-one should be left behind. Sustainable
Development Goal number seven of the UN ensures access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all people of the world”, he said.