Nigeria Leveraging Natural Gas as Transition Fuel – Ekpo

By Ndubuisi Micheal Obineme

The Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas) Honourable Ekperikpe Ekpo, has reiterated that natural gas would remain Nigeria’s transition fuel, noting that the government is leveraging on the rich gas resources of the country to enhance energy security as well as facilitate a seamless transition, and attract the necessary finance which will propel Nigeria into a sustainable and prosperous energy future.

The minister, made this known at the just concluded 7th edition of Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) 2024 with the theme: “Navigating The New Energy World Order: Security, Transition and Finance”.

The minister said energy security extends beyond geopolitical stability to include the resilience, diversification, and reliability of energy infrastructure.

In his words, “The theme of this summit: ‘Navigating the new energy world order: Security, Transition, and Finance,’ underscores the challenges and opportunities that define our times. The theme resonates deeply with the path that the gas industry must tread to ensure Nigeria’s economic transformation. Allow me to shed light on the symbiotic relationship between the theme of the summit and the transformative potential of the gas industry in our great nation. The gas industry, with abundant domestic reserves of proven 208TCF of gas and exploration potential, is crucial for enhancing energy security.”

With its abundance of natural gas resources, Ekpo stated clearly that Nigeria has no business with energy poverty and the gas industry serves as a bridge fuel, facilitating the shift from conventional to clean energy sources.

“Natural gas, with its lower carbon footprint and versatility, aligns with global climate objectives while providing a reliable solution to meet energy needs. Nigeria, with significant gas reserves, would leverage its gas resources to become a key player in the global energy transition.

“Finance is essential for transformative endeavors, and the gas sector is no exception. To unlock the full potential of gas resources, attracting both domestic and foreign investments is important. Collaboration with international partners, financial institutions, and the private sector is pivotal for securing funding for gas infrastructure development.

“Nigeria is currently facing both challenges and opportunities, and the gas industry plays a crucial role in shaping the country’s energy future. The nation is rich in natural gas reserves. It is now essential to strategically utilize these resources to drive economic development, job creation, and environmental sustainability,” Ekpo explained.

Speaking further, Ekpo stated that overdependence on oil revenue poses significant economic risks for Nigeria, and diversifying the economy away from oil dependence creates numerous challenges.

However, the minister said it is in times of challenge that innovation and strategic vision become imperative.

“Today, I stand before the stakeholders to advocate for a shift, a shift towards the vast potential that lies in the gas sector.

“Shift towards gas is not merely an option but a necessity for our economic resilience. The gas industry presents a unique opportunity to diversify our revenue streams, reduce dependence on oil, and create a more robust and sustainable economic foundation.

“Our journey to revitalize the country’s economy through Natural Gas should stand on four key pillars. First, we are accelerating the deployment of gas-fired power plants to enhance the reliability and availability of electricity across the nation. This should come hand-in-hand with encouraging private sector participation in the power sector through attractive investment frameworks and incentives,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, Nigeria is going to sustain the promotion of the use of natural gas as a feedstock for industries, reducing operational costs and enhancing competitiveness.

Ekpo maintained that the country should also facilitate the establishment of gas-based industries to create more employment opportunities and boost economic growth.

He said his ministry would continue the development of the necessary infrastructure to ensure widespread access to clean and affordable natural gas for domestic consumers and also encourage the adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for transportation and household use, respectively.

“Last but not least, we are going to strengthen partnerships with neighboring countries to enhance regional gas trade and cooperation and also explore more international markets for our liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, thereby, positioning Nigeria as a major player in the global gas market.

“I am pleased to report that significant progress has been made in the realization of the ‘Decade of Gas’ vision. The official secretariat is now operational and fully functional.

“On September 12, 2023, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) announced the successful bidders for the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Program. Out of 300 interested entities, 42 were chosen, receiving 40 flare sites for independent development, while 4 entities got 9 sites each for cluster development. It is anticipated that the allocated entities will commence full operations on their sites this year,” he said.

He also said that another milestone in the country’s journey towards a gas-focused economy is the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline.

He disclosed that significant progress has been made in the construction of this critical infrastructure project and that the country is on track to ensure its completion and commissioning as scheduled.

The Obiafu/Obrikom/Oben (OB3), he noted, is a vital piece of gas infrastructure for the supply of feedstock to the AKK pipeline. This pipeline is among the biggest gas transmission systems in both Nigeria and Africa.

While expressed his joy at announcing that going by the Contractor estimates, the OB3 pipeline will be completed by March 2024.

According to him, the OB3 gas pipeline project, spanning 127 km with a 48-inch diameter, stretching from the Obiafu-Obrikom gas plant near Omuku, Rivers State, to Oben, Edo State will supply 2BCF of gas per day.

“Upon completion, this pipeline is intended to supply the AKK pipeline with gas from the three fields of Obiafu, Obrikom, and Oben. I would like to use this opportunity to appreciate the resilience of the NNPCL Group for their steadfastness and proactive approach to ensuring a timely completion of the OB3 pipeline project.

“The President Bola Tinubu administration is fully committed to creating an enabling environment for the growth of the gas sector. The administration is actively implementing policies and regulatory frameworks that encourage investment, promote innovation, and ensure sustainability.

“The private sector is welcome onboard. Together, we can transform our abundant natural gas resources into a driving force for economic development and ensure that Nigeria emerges as a key player in the global energy landscape.

“Finally, the gas sector is not merely a component but a cornerstone in navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by the new energy world order,” he added.

businessEkperikpe EkpoEnergy TransitionNigerian GasOB3 gas pipelineOil and Gas CompaniesOil and Gas News
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