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Energy transition: Shell boss urges Nigeria to optimise resources

The Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, has advised that Nigeria should adopt a two-pronged strategy for its energy transition programme in response to global call to reduce exploitation of fossil fuels and production of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Osagie Okunbor
Mr. Osagie Okunbor, Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria and Managing Director, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) …ddelivering the 51st Founders’ Day Lecture of the University of Benin titled: The Global Energy Transition and The Imperatives for Nigeria …on Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Okunbor spoke on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, while delivering the 51st Founders’ Day Lecture of the University of Benin titled: “The Global Energy Transition and The Imperatives for Nigeria”, where he called for an urgent optimisation of Nigeria’s energy resources for a speedy economic and industrial development of the country.

“Nigeria has gas in abundance around 202 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves and about 600 trillion cubic feet of unproven reserves. Harnessing these vast gas resources, and on time too, is key in the next decade of Nigeria’s existence,” Okunbor said.

According to him, the second approach for Nigeria’s successful energy transition would be an intentional growth of the off-grid power and renewables industry taking advantage of foreign financial support and technology transfer.

“The ongoing energy transition is here with us. As with other transitions, it is a journey that will involve multiple approaches, collective action and undoubtedly present new challenges and opportunities. Nigeria is well positioned to ride the wave of the current energy transition with its abundance of natural fossil fuels and renewable solar energy. We need to move with a greater sense of urgency and a clear sense of direction,” he said.

Okunbor, who is also the Managing Director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), said: “Nigeria, as a country with abundant natural fossil fuel resources, cannot afford for international and multilateral agencies to stop funding the development of fossil fuels, particularly gas projects.”

“The transition is underway,” Okunbor said, “but it will move at different paces and produce different outcomes in different countries depending on local factors. Society faces a dual challenge to transition to a low-carbon energy future, dealing with how to manage the risk of climate change, while also extending the benefits of energy to everyone on the planet. This is a challenge that requires changes in the way energy is produced, used and made accessible to people.”

Despite the efforts at decarbonisation, Okunbor said oil and gas would remain in the energy mix for some decades to come.

“This is partly a consequence of the time needed for renewables to reach the necessary level of materiality. In part, it is also a consequence of the lack of substitution options in some parts of the economy. But the world will need to meet its energy needs at the same time as it tackles climate change.”

He noted that, to make the Federal Government’s “Decade of Gas” agenda a success, the country would need to unlock the domestic gas-to-power value chain; accelerating infrastructure development; drive gas-based industrialisation; and deepen domestic liquefied petroleum gas penetration.

In addition, he said there was a need to build a stable regulatory environment anchored on a willing-buyer-willing-seller pricing regime; grow the export and regional gas market; and build local capacity and content for contractors and professionals in the gas sector.

He said: “A transformation of the global economy is required, especially in the power sector, transport, buildings, and industry – four main areas where energy is consumed and that produce a significant proportion of energy-related emissions of CO2.

He also advocated a significant shift in the consumption of energy in power, transportation, buildings, and industry as key areas that will determine the long-term energy mix.

“To tackle climate change, power generation, for example, must evolve to use a combination of more renewable sources of energy, as well as natural gas – the cleanest-burning of the hydrocarbon fuels.”

On how Shell was responding to the challenge of access to energy and the global drive to grow the renewable energy sector, Okunbor said the global energy giant had made significant targeted investments on the platform of Shell’s Energy Access team and the Shell-seeded impact investing company, All On, to help close Nigeria’s energy gap.

“So far, All On has invested over $21million in 40 off-grid energy companies in Nigeria and has driven over 40,000 solar connections across Nigeria to date,” he said.

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