The Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, says the Federal Government is currently working to grow the country’s gas reserve from 206 trillion cubic feet to 600 TCF.
Sylva gave the assurance on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at the 23rd World Petroleum Congress in Houston, Texas, U.S.
The minister spoke at a session themed ”Regional Development and Opportunities in Africa”.
He said the increase would position Nigeria among the countries with the highest gas reserves in the world.
According to him, the 600 trillion cubic feet reserve would enable Nigeria to achieve the desired development required of a gas nation.
“We have a lot of gas in Nigeria. We currently have 206 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.
“This number is already discovered in gas reserves and the 206 trillion cubic feet reserve were discovered while looking for oil; so it was accidentally discovered.
“We were actually going to look for crude oil and we found gas, and in that process of accidental discovery of gas, we have found about 206 tcf.
“So, the belief is that if we really aim to look for gas dedicatedly, we will find up to 600 trillion cubic feets of gas,” the minister said.
Sylva said that the forum provided an opportunity to share accomplishments and incentives within the industry which enhance Nigeria’s investment value preposition.
He explained that, so far, gas was being used as a transition fuel as Nigeria and Africa as a continent do not contribute more than one per cent as carbon emission aggravating the global warming situation.
He said: “The future of oil and gas industry in Nigeria is still very bright when we talk about energy transition, we are not expected that oil will be discarded the next day.
”We are saying that over the years, oil will account for less and less percentage in the global energy mix.
”It means that oil is still going to be relevant but it will not to be as relevant as it is today, but it not going to happen just now.
“It’s going to happen years to come, so there is still a lot of opportunities in growing the oil industry.
“That’s why we are here to collaborate with the rest of the global community to develop oil industry.
“We’ve never discountenance that the world is serious about energy transition.”
He added that Net-Zero target proposed by Mr President Muhammadu Buhari during the COP26 conference required sustained financial assistance.
He said that technology transfer and capacity building from international partners willing and able to assist in that regard would be welcome.
The minister added that Nigeria still required fossil fuels, especially gas, as its base-pad energy source to address energy poverty and power supply in the country.
“We have declared gas as our transition fuel, our pathway to net-zero carbon emissions. This presents investment opportunities given the oil and gas reserves which can be commercialised,” he noted.
Sylva said that despite the challenges and impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy in general, and to the oil and gas industry in particular amid global energy transition drive, the Nigeria oil industry still held profound opportunities.
The minister said that discussion had commenced with Afrexim Bank to create an energy bank which will finance fossil fuel projects in Nigeria and Africa continent.
He said this had become necessary because of the stance of the international financial ecosystem on funding fossil fuel projects.
On Petroleum Industry Act, Sylva said the PIA provided lots of incentives to gas producers to ensure Nigeria is committed to energy transition.
He said the PIA had enhanced the Nigerian Petroleum industry’s reputation, provided the pathway to new investments and also consolidated the ability to play a significant role in meeting the world’s growing energy demand.
“We are hoping that by 2060, we would have gotten to the point where we would have moved to the level where the global community is moving to.
“Nigeria never denied energy transition but there are challenges for us. We want the global community to understand our position that we are not exactly where they are today.
“Forty-three per cent of Nigerians are unconnected to off grid electricity. So, we have a challenge and we have to commit to energy security as well, and also the cost on us from the global community to ensure energy security for our people. So, for us, it is a balancing act.
“We need to commit to energy security for citizen. It is a balancing act, we need to achieve energy security for Nigerians and also be on course on net zero.”
On developing local capacity, the petroleum minister explained that Nigeria had taken local capacity development from three per cent to 33 per cent in 10 years.
He said that government intended to increase local content to 70 per cent by 2027.
The World Petroleum Congress, which kicked off on Monday, ends on Thursday with over 5,000 participants.
By Yunus Yusuf