Stakeholders question FG’s declaration of 2021-2030 as decade of gas

Solomon Ezeme

The Federal Government’s commitment to it’s declaration of the next ten years as a decade of gas has come under serious criticism as stakeholders feel government has not matched words with actions.

They have therefore challenged the government to prove its seriousness on how to attain the goals set out to be achieved by the policy declaration.

Speakers at the annual Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) Business Forum, with the theme: “Petroleum Industry Act: Progress and Opportunities in the Decade of Gas, on Tuesday, said the government has not done enough to actualise the vision.

A panelists at the event, Dr. Philip Mshelbila, Managing Director, Nigeria LNG Limited, said despite the enactment of the PIA, the ‘Decade of Gas’ plan and all of the other things, there is still lots to prove government’s sincerity.

He pointed out that the PIA needs to address the issue of investors, especially International Oil Companies (IOCs), abandoning the nation’s upstream sectors for some reasons which, according to him, range from security, economic to communal.

“There appears to be a flight of investors, and specifically IOCs from our upstream industry. We’ve heard rumours of divestments.

“We need to stop and ask ourselves: ‘What’s going on there?’ If the PIA is actually what we say it is and we are so confident in the ‘Decade of Gas’, how can we address this?

“Because really we on the verge of experiencing some real change in the investments and the investors and their ownership, within the upstream.

“So, something still needs to be addressed. Whether it is community issues, security issues or economic issues, whatever it is, we have to be on top of it,” he said.

Confirming the absence of investment in the sector despite government pronouncements, Co-Founder and Deputy Managing Director, Falcon Corporation Limited, Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, noted that partnership with investors is necessary to prevent further loses in the industry, in terms of Investments.

“A need for a collaborative approach between the Government and the private sector is going to be key and would underpin everything relating to the progress and the that is going to be around the PIA.

“The estimation that we’ve lost about $15 billion in investment annually, caused by the delay in passing the PIB (Petroleum Industry Bill) which is today the PIA.

“That for me signals to us about what we don’t what to lose, going forward.

“This means there’s going to be a change in how we embrace the implementation, the operation of everything relating to the PIA, whether in the setting up of the agencies, in creating regulations, and all that,” she said.

However, government and its agencies affirm commitment to the policy and the PIA.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, in his keynote address stated that the nation, against foreign pressure and influences, will continue to embrace its gas, as it holds huge prospect for the growth and development of Nigeria’s economy.

Sylvia who was represented by his Technical Adviser on Gas Business & Policy Implementation, Engr. Justice Derefaka, emphasize the need for harness natural gas as the main source of energy to power the country’s economic transformation.

“Most experts agree that the ability to cost-effectively develop our vast deposits of natural gas is a game changer for our energy future.

“This resource base represents new opportunities for domestic and global economic growth, as well as changing fuel choice options in multiple sectors.

“We must keep demonstrating that natural gas is a part of the solution if the world is concerned about climate change and pollutions,” he noted.

Similarly, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC), Gbenga Komolafe, said that the implementation of various areas of the PIA will ensure that government’s goals for the Nigerian oil and gas sector, is attainable while pledging to collaborate with investors and stakeholders for the betterment of the sector.

Komolafe represented by Engr. Abdulazeez Balogun (Head, Health, Safety and Environment of the NURC), said “Be assured that our organisation is ever ready to partner with all stakeholders for the advancement of the industry.

“The energy outlook of the world is changing and our industry must adapt accordingly to survive, maintain relevance, remain competitive and thrive.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the abundant petroleum resources works for its citizenry.

“This omnibus law (the PIA) holds the key to unlocking value from the nation’s petroleum resources for the benefit of our generation and unborn Nigerians.

“Now, with the enactment of the PIA, the legal, regulatory, fiscal governance and institutional frameworks to enable the attainment of the key objectives of the government for the Nigerian oil and gas sector, have been emplaced. Nonetheless of which is the ‘Decade of Gas’ initiative,” he stated.

Explaining how the regulatory agency plans to help implement the Government’s initiative, he disclosed that NURC will be facilitating the approval of new gas projects, to increase gas supply.

“The question there is: how does this law enable the implementation of the ‘Decade of Gas’?

“Let us approach the topic by taking on a key element of the PIA, that is, the governance & institutional, the regulatory & administrative, fiscal & host communities.

“Firstly, on the the governance & institutional font, it is no news that the regulatory institutions have been changed for increased focus on the upstream on the one hand, and then midstream and downstream, on the other.

“The single minded focus of the NUPRC on upstream business is to enhance the attainment of gas goal, through dedicated gas exploration, optimal development of gas resources and increased gas production to cater for the anticipated goal in demand which is forecast to exceed 20 billion standard cubic feet by 2030.”