Nigeria’s unutilised gas resource

The disclosure by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited,. NNPCL, that Nigeria’s domestic gas infrastructure network has the capacity to transport 6.9 billion standard cubic feet of gas to support power generation and gas-based industries is quite cheering. The import of this statement is that Nigeria has the potential to join the league of developed nations in no distant future if its gas resource is utilised.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPCL, Malam Mele Kyari, made this known recently in Abuja at the 2023 edition of the Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum. The forum, which was organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, had its theme as “Effective Gas Resources Utilisation: A Lever for Enhancing Energy Security and Achieving Net-Zero Emission Goals in Nigeria”.

Kyari said Nigeria’s huge investment in gas infrastructure is hinged on its growing natural gas reserves, thus supporting the nation’s aspiration to create Africa’s biggest industrial hub, powered by low-carbon energy. He said the NNPCL was taking advantage of Nigeria’s huge natural gas reserves of over 200 trillion cubic feet with a potential to grow to 600 TCF as more investment is expected due to the recent resolution of the Production Sharing Contract disputes with partners. He said this significant reserve would serve as a low-carbon energy alternative that would support growth in power and industrial sectors, address energy poverty, reduce carbon footprint and create more employment opportunities.

“NNPC is playing a leading role in the realisation of the National Gas Expansion Programme, which seeks to deepen natural gas utilisation as an alternative transportation fuel, and an important feedstock for gas-based industries development. We are working assiduously to ensure timely delivery of gas pipeline infrastructure projects, including the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline corridor, planned Nigeria-Morocco and Trans-Sahara Gas Pipelines, that will connect West African countries to deliver natural gas to international markets,” he said.

For the gas export market, he said the ongoing Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Train Seven would expand Nigeria’s LNG production capacity from 22 million tons per annum to about 30 MTPA. He said it was leveraging the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act to attract more investment in the Nigerian petroleum sector, to continue to guarantee access to energy while aligning with the global energy transition.

“As part of our sustainability strategy, NNPCL is deploying carbon-reduction initiatives to gradually decarbonise our operations and improve our compliance with global emission reduction. All of these cannot be achieved if we do not have the security of our operations. We will continue to further deepen collaboration amongst all the relevant stakeholders; government security agencies, host communities and others to enhance energy security. NNPC will deepen relationships with the industry, governments, research institutions and the academia to strengthen its renewable energy division to pursue commercially viable new energy ventures in line with Nigeria’s net-zero aspiration by 2060,” he said.

Kyari, while thanking the SPE for their efforts in promoting innovation, knowledge sharing required for our industry, urged them and other industry stakeholders to continue to collaborate with NNPCL to guarantee energy security.

In an address, Commission Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe, said providing clean, sustainable and affordable energy to the global populace is a critical challenge. Komolafe, represented by Dr Nuhu Habib, Executive Commissioner, Production and Development, NUPRC, said it was committed to ensuring access to enabling environment and regulatory frameworks for progressive investments in gas production and energy transition achievement.

Also speaking, Mr Farouk Ahmed, Authority Chief Executive, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, called for concerted efforts of all levels of government to ensure energy security was guaranteed. He said the authority drafted 20 oil and gas industry regulations to fully deliver value to Nigeria’s economy.

Ahmed said out of the regulations, 12 had been gazetted while five out of the gazetted regulations are gas based. He, however, expressed assurance that the authority is positioned to ensure enabling environment and investments in gas value chain for business to thrive.

It is instructive that the federal government had, last year, said the value of Nigeria’s proven gas reserves of about 206.53 trillion cubic feet was over $803.4 trillion, adding that the country had the most extensive gas resource in Africa. It stated that the European Union had proposed categorising natural gas as a green energy source, as this would impact favourably on Nigeria due to the country’s abundant natural gas reserves.

The then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, disclosed this at the 2022 Annual Public Lecture of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Bwari Branch, Abuja. Speaking on the lecture’s theme, “Inclusive Energy Transition: Key Issues, Investment Opportunities and Barriers Towards Achieving the Decades of Gas Initiative in Nigeria,” Sylva explained that markets alone would not drive the energy transition at a sufficient pace or scale to address the climate challenge from an investment standpoint.

It beggars belief that despite its huge gas resource, Nigeria is still import dependent on finished goods, including refined petroleum products, no thanks to the epileptic power supply that has rendered the nation’s industrial sector incapacitated. We, therefore, urge the federal government to walk its talk by deploring its enormous gas resource towards Nigeria’s industrialisation.