By Job Osazuwa
In the past 12 months, global economies have been badly hit by the effects of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdowns imposed by different countries. Till now, several nations have yet to lift the lid on some of the embargoes put in place while the deadly virus scourged the globe from continent to continent.
Many countries have since then become preoccupied with plans to resuscitate their economies and rejuvenate their societies after the COVID era.
In Nigeria, many analysts have insisted that the nation’s vast gas reserves have a huge role to play in the future of the country if the economy would ever be brought to life in the post-COVID era.
Next Monday, at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, stakeholders in the oil industry would gather for a conference. The session is the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources’ Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (N.I.P.S). It is a pre-summit conference of the 2021 NIPS organised by Brevity Anderson and sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited.
The Decade of Gas conference, with the theme “Towards a Gas-powered Economy by 2030,” will feature President Muhammadu Buhari as special guest of honour.
Some of the speakers expected at the event are Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Bitrus Bako Nabasu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources; Mele Kolo Kyari, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Tony Attah, managing director/CEO of NLNG, and managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman.
It was gathered that while the speakers would gather at the venue, everyone would be able to participate live from their homes, according to James Shindi, chief executive of Brevity Anderson. The event would also be recorded so that those that might not follow the live event could also access it on demand.
Sylva had earlier declared the period from January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2030, as the decade of gas in Nigeria. He said the plan by government was to transform the national oil company into a diversified energy holding company in a post-COVID-19 era.
Said he: “This will enable us to respond swiftly to the twin challenges of a future crash in crude oil prices and decarbonisation, by moving rapidly to becoming an energy holding company with more diverse interests.
“Consequently, we have strategically focused on our vast natural gas resources, as a critical transition fuel to help battle global warming and function as a bridge between the dominant fossil fuel of today and the renewable energy of tomorrow.”
The minister explained that substituting traditional white products with gas would cushion the effect of the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector and stimulate economic growth. He added that it would further improve Nigeria’s energy mix; drive investments and create enormous job opportunities for Nigerians.
“Natural gas has the intrinsic ability to meet the increasing global requirement for cleaner primary energy use, while at the same time, enabling much needed domestic industrialisation for rapid economic growth in very few endowed countries, such as Nigeria,” he noted.
Some important personalities in the oil and gas sector have noted that global developments have made it expedient for the government to rejig its gas agenda. They said government has an opportunity to increase its reserves and domestic utilisation for power generation and transportation. To encourage players in the sector, they canvass the development of regulations and strategic frameworks.
NLNG managing director, Tony Attah, said his firm would increase allocation of LPG to the domestic market from 350,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 450,000MT by 2021. He said the move would support government plan to boost access to cooking gas in the country.
He said: “We can become the fourth largest reserve of gas if we exploit and develop the over 600 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas yet to be explored. Nigeria is a gas nation but keeps focusing on oil. More than just agreeing to make 2021 the year of gas, we need to declare the decade for gas.”
The Federal Government, it was gathered, has shown its commitment to industrialisation driven by gas with several policies and projects. These include the NLNG T7 Project, the National Gas Expansion Programme, Autogas policy and the construction of the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline. These initiatives and projects are expected to stimulate economic growth, further improve Nigeria’s energy mix, drive investments, and provide jobs in the country.
Already, the AKK natural gas pipeline has taken off. The project will pass through Kogi, Niger, the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna and Kano, feeding power plants and industries along the corridor.
The NLNG Train 7 Project, for instance, can increase production capacity from the current 22 Million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 30 million tonnes, stakeholders have said.
The final investment decision (FID) for the project was taken by NLNG’s shareholders on December 27 2019. And on May 13 last year, the engineering, procurement and construction contracts for the project were awarded to SCD JV Consortium.
It was gathered that over $10 billion will be invested in the NLNG Train 7 Project. It is expected that more than 12,000 new jobs would be created during the construction stage. After it has been completed, the project will help to further diversify the revenue portfolio of the Federal Government, increase its tax base and support the development of local engineering and fabrication.
For the Autogas project, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Minister of State, Sylva, have been passionate in the quest for a wider adoption of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to ease pressure on petrol imports.
The minister noted that the conversion of vehicles in his ministry and agencies had shown that the government has working on the use of Autogas nationwide, saying government was committed to its Year of Gas declaration.
And at the virtual launch of the autogas scheme, Buhari had urged Nigerians to embrace gas as alternative fuel for their vehicles, even as he directed the Minister of State to work out the pump prices of the CNG and the LNG.
While unveiling the National Gas Expansion Programme and National Autogas Roll-out Initiative at a virtual event at the State House, Abuja, President Buhari said: “It is no longer news that the vast natural gas resources, which Nigeria is endowed with, has hitherto been used sub-optimally as a result of a dearth of gas processing facilities and infrastructural connectivity for effective and optimal domestic utilisation.
“With a proven reserve of about 203 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and additional upside of 600 TCF ranking Nigeria as the 9th in the world currently, the need for domestic gas expansion and utilisation is apparent.”
He added that the autogas initiative would lead to increased domestic gas utilisation and enrich the trajectory of national economic growth and development, urging Nigerians to embrace the use of gas as an alternative fuel.
The National Gas Expansion Programme was initiated last year to boost the utilisation of gas in the short and medium term and it is expected to create two million jobs per annum, promote skills acquisition and enhance technology transfer in addition to growing the nation’s gross domestic product.
The ministry, through Sylva, launched the autogas station at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Lugbe, Abuja which served as a showcase for the launch of the National Gas Expansion Programme and National Autogas Roll-out Initiative. The minister also launched five buses fuelled with gas at the venue. The buses were handed over to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). The minister said an additional 100 buses would soon be provided for the NLC.