• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

FG eyes Europe gas market, begins talk on emerging alternative gas supplier

Nigeria strengthens bilateral ties with Spain

On the heels of the festering war between Ukraine and Russia which threatens gas supply to European countries, the Federal Government has declare interest to become an alternative gas supplier to meet the EU energy needs.

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva disclosed during a courtesy call by EU ambassadors to Nigeria led by the Ambassador Samuela Isopi that Russia presently supplies about 40 percent of EU gas needs.

While assuring that Nigeria was ready to step in as alternative gas supplier to Europe, Sylva called on the EU to encourage its oil and gas companies including Shell, Eni, Total Energies among others to scale up investments in the gas sector in Nigeria.

According to him, “what has stunted the growth in the development of gas in Nigeria has been lack of fresh investments.

“One of the biggest problem we have in the sector has been investments. In the last 10 years over $70 billion worth of investments came to Africa but sadly less than $4 billion came to Nigeria and surprisingly we are the biggest in Africa. If we can not attract investments in Nigeria, you know where we are heading.

“You have been our long time friend. As at today, our gas reserve is one of the biggest in the world. We have a proven gas reserve of 206 tcf and if we really focus on gas exploitation we can get up to 600 tcf. Nigeria is arguably the best territory to invest.

Read also: How Nigeria’s oil sector walked to a cliff’s edge

“We are already building gas infrastructure such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project which is expected to take gas to Algeria and the West Africa Gas Pipeline project designed to take gas to Morroco. As you can see we are already building infrastructure that will take gas to Europe. All we need is investments. We acknowledge that there are challenges in the sector but we should partner to help solve the problem.”

Speaking further, the Minister decried the speed with which EU was taking away investments in fossil fuels adding that with the continued disagreement between Russia and Ukraine, gas has been weaponized spurring the need for an alternative supplier.

While emphasizing the need for transfer of technology in gas and renewable energy he said Africa must be allowed to continue to exploit its hydrocarbon deposits to develop the continent.

“We warned that the speed was faster than they were developing renewable energy. You can see now that what we were warning against is what is happening now.

“After the Russia-Ukrainian war is over, you must now have a buffer or an alternative source of gas and we can work with you to create that buffer. We can work with the EU to bridge the gap in terms of gas,” he said.

In her response, Ambassador Isopi urged Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the present crisis in Europe to shore up gas supplies to Europe.

While reflecting on the security situation in the Niger Delta which has impacted on gas supply in the last few years, Isopi urged the Nigerian government to step up security in the region to guarantee gas supply to EU member states.

She particularly expressed concern over the spate of attacks on Shell, Eno and Total Energies’ gas infrastructure that led to the declaration of force majure by the companies and noted that the development was of great concern to Europe.

“The recent developments in the Niger Delta is of great concern to us,” she said.

The French ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Emmaunelle Blatmann who went back memory lane on the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and France noted that despite the present challenges in the sector in the country, “our companies are ready to commence new investments in Nigeria”.