• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Policy intervention series 1: Roundtable on the Future of Energy

Policy intervention series 1: Roundtable on the Future of Energy

Friday April 26, 2024

Radisson Blue Hotel, Victoria Island

Overview
This report addresses the significant challenges and potential solutions in Nigeria’s electricity and oil sectors, emphasising the need for transparency, investment, and strategic reforms to improve efficiency and reliability. It also includes insights from industry stakeholders on fostering local content development and improving contracting processes.

Speakers and Panelists

Olu Verheijen Special Adviser to the President on Energy; Clementine Wallop Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Horizon Engage; Huub Stokman MD, NNPC Retail Limited / Chairman, MEMAN; . Biodun Adedipe Founder & Chief Consultant, B. Adedipe Associates Limited (BAA Consult); Tonna Ejiofor Head Debt Solutions, FBNQuest Merchant Bank; Sina Sipasi Partner & Head, Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group, AELEX.

Electricity Sector Challenges and Solutions

Challenges

1. High Electricity Costs: Nigerians face high electricity costs despite unreliable power supply. Comparatively, Ghana has lower electricity costs despite having less developed infrastructure.

2. Lack of Transparency: The cost structure for electricity remains unclear, raising questions about inefficiencies and accountability.

3. Stagnant Power Generation: Despite Nigeria’s vast gas reserves, total power generation has not increased since the late 1990s.

Solutions

1. Improve Metering: Enhance metering systems to identify areas of energy loss, ensuring more accurate billing and reduced theft.

2. End Regressive Subsidies: Reform subsidies to target those who need them most, and increase tariffs for high-consumption customers who receive reliable power. This approach balances equity and financial sustainability.

3. Accountability: Hold distribution companies accountable for their service delivery, ensuring they meet standards and improve customer satisfaction.

4. Attract Investment: Create an enabling environment to attract private sector investment in the power sector by ensuring regulatory stability and providing incentives.

Oil Sector Challenges and Solutions

Challenges

1. Stagnant Oil Production: Nigeria’s oil production has not grown since the 1990s, despite the country’s potential and past goals.

Solutions

1. Fiscal Incentives: Provide fiscal incentives to encourage investment in deep-water oil fields, which require significant capital but offer substantial returns.

2. Streamline Approvals: Simplify and expedite the process for approving investments to make it more attractive for investors.

3. Balance Interests: Carefully balance attracting foreign investment with protecting Nigerian interests to ensure sustainable and mutually beneficial development.

Backward Integration and Local Manufacturing
Challenges
1. Competition: Local manufacturers struggle to compete on price due to lack of economies of scale.
Solutions
1. Bulk Procurement: The government will use bulk procurement and international benchmarking to drive down prices, making local production more competitive.
2. Encourage Localisation: Support local manufacturers to participate in these procurement processes, gradually building capacity and localizing production.

Contracting Thresholds

Actions
1. Governance Structures: The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is amending its governance structures to implement a $10 million contracting threshold, aimed at improving efficiency and transparency.

2. Contracting Timelines: The directive also addresses the need to streamline contracting timelines for major contracts, reducing delays and fostering a more business-friendly environment.

Final Investment Decisions (FIDs)

Focus

1. LNG: The government is focusing on LNG (NLNG) due to low utilisation rates. The construction of Train 7 is nearing completion, but Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) for supply projects are needed to ensure a stable gas supply.

2. New Directives: The government is confident that at least three FIDs will occur due to the new directives, bolstering the gas sector’s growth.

Integration and Alignment

Achievements

1. Duty Waivers: The government has successfully implemented duty waivers for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) equipment, facilitating the adoption of cleaner energy sources.

Industry Feedback and Responses

Gas Debts

● Legacy gas debts remain a major issue, complicated by disagreements over whether debts are owed in dollars or naira. The government is working on resolving this by reviewing contracts and reconciling amounts.

● Current gas debts also pose challenges, necessitating an increase in electricity tariffs to ensure sufficient funds to pay distribution, transmission, and generation companies, as well as gas suppliers.

Energy Transition

While renewables currently make up a small percentage of the primary energy mix, gas will continue to play a significant role in Nigeria’s energy landscape. The government emphasises a data-driven approach to ensure energy security and affordability.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

● Recognising the potential of EVs, the government is providing fiscal incentives for EV companies to set up assembly plants and is exploring opportunities for mass transportation using electric vehicles. However, significant government intervention to drive EV adoption at scale is currently limited by fiscal constraints.

Panel Session Insights

1. Energy Efficiency: There is a critical need for increased investment in Nigeria’s downstream sector to modernise infrastructure and enhance reliability and safety.

2. Deep Water and Onshore Investments: Clear and consistent government regulations are crucial for attracting investment. Streamlined processes for contract approvals and tax incentives are necessary to encourage investment.

3. Local Content Development: Encouraging collaboration between foreign contractors and local companies is essential for effective utilisation of resources and capacity building.

Commercial Lending and Investor Confidence:

● Establishing a Naira-denominated infrastructure fund could provide long-term financing for energy projects. Directing a portion of pension funds into this fund could significantly benefit the private sector.

● Successful replication of embedded power and smaller-scale investments, as seen in recent 20-megawatt power plant deals, could alleviate grid pressure and reduce the frequency of grid collapses.

Conclusion
The discussions highlighted the need for urgent reforms, increased transparency, and strategic investments to address Nigeria’s energy sector challenges. Continued collaboration between stakeholders is essential to maximise the potential benefits and drive growth in the sector. The government’s efforts in promoting energy efficiency, local content development, and integration of renewable energy sources are commendable, but sustained effort and strategic planning are required to achieve long-term success.