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Drawbacks to gas-to-power projects, by stakeholders

Stakeholders at the ongoing Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) in Abuja have identified the dearth of infrastructure and commitment as the major challenges facing gas-to-power projects in the country.

A gas-powered plant
A gas-powered plant

They made the observation on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at a breakout session of the summit, which has “Evolution of Energy Mix: Where Are We Headed’’ as its theme.

Mr Saidu Mohammed, Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said that Africa was blessed with vast natural gas resources which needed to be harnessed.

“Natural gas is available in all African countries, but we need to work together as a continent.

“Regional integration is very important, especially in the area of infrastructure,’’ he said.

He noted that although there had been a clamour for renewable energy, in which Africa had a comparative advantage, gas-to-power projects remained the best option in power supply programmes for the continent.

Besides, Mr Dayo Adeshina, Programme Manager, National Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Expansion Plan, underscored the need to develop the gas infrastructure in Nigeria, as part of efforts to attain the goals of the nation’s gas-to-power projects.

He noted that the policy directions of government had somewhat affected the use of gas in the country.

He stressed that there was huge infrastructure deficit in gas utilisation, noting that 50 per cent of Nigeria’s gas infrastructure was in the South West geopolitical zone, while the northern part of the country had only three gas filling plants.

“In other nations, public utilities are powered by gas, but the opposite is what we have here in Nigeria.

“You will recall that government had supported kerosene, which should not be for human consumption, with subsidy but gas was left with huge Value Added Tax (VAT) to deal with.

“I am happy that government is now addressing it but we are expecting the outcome,’’ he added.

Adeshina bemoaned the fact that the Nigeria LNG Ltd. (NLNG) had only three terminals for gas transportation, saying that most products were transported by road.

He called for the development of rail and inland waterways infrastructure to facilitate better distribution of products.

He stressed that the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure would stimulate efforts to attain the targets of the country’s gas-to-power projects.

In his comments, Mr Justice Derefaka, Programme Manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, stressed that the nation had lost a lot of development prospects due to gas flaring.

He said that about 888 million standard cubic feet of gas were flared in Nigeria daily, adding that the flared gas could have been used to generate over 3,000 megawatts of power for the country.

Derefaka underscored the need to enforce polices aimed at stamping out gas flaring in the country.

Also, Mr Ransome Owan, the Pioneer Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said that huge gaps existed between what was happening and what should be done.

He said that Nigeria still lacked the infrastructure to effectively harvest its gas resources, adding that there had not been any tangible commitment to addressing the issue.

“What is happening with the West African Gas Pipeline project? How well do we supply gas to Ghana?

“We are not working on connectivity; people are flaring gas not because they want to.

“We have to resolve to solve the infrastructure challenge to enable us to achieve the goals of gas-to-power programmes in Nigeria and Africa at large,’’ Owan said.

By Edith Ike-Eboh

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