FG urges EU to relax rules hindering international finance for fossil fuel production 

Oredola Adeola

The Nigerian Government has urged the European Union(EU) to appeal to its financial institutions to relax stringent rules and remove bottlenecks bothering finance to  investment in fossil fuel.

This request was made by  Timipré Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, when he received Mr. Matthew Baldwim, Deputy Director-General, EU Energy Platform Task-Force in his office in Abuja at the weekend.

The meeting was part of the European Union (EU) plan to partner with the Federal Government in its renewed interest to put a mechanism in place to fund gas projects in Nigeria in order to guarantee energy security in Africa and Europe.

The EU delegation had earlier in February held a meeting with other key ministries in order to guarantee energy security.

Sylva Sylva bemoaned the speed at which the EU and Western countries placed sanction on investment in fossil fuel. He said in years to come fossil fuel would be very relevant while gas would be used as transition fuel.

The Minister however challenged the EU to appeal to their financial institutions to be willing to relax stringent rules and remove bottlenecks bothering loans to enable sourcing funds under conducive agreement.

He said, “We have always said that we are committed to gas as a transition fuel and today we are speaking the same language with the EU.

“We are discussing with the EU on how to collaborate on developing technology and other support they can give Nigeria.

“They are responsible for the policy that will drive the investment,” he said.

Sylva also informed the delegation that the plan by the EU to fund a gas project in Nigeria would hasten the desire of the EU to guarantee alternative gas to Russia’s.

He described the assistance which covered security, technology development, financing and private sector investment as worthwhile because finally it had enabled Nigeria to be on the same page with the rest of the world.

On security, he said it was another area of cooperation because they went to the Niger Delta Region to see for themselves what the security situation was, adding that part of the solution itself also required technology.

He said the region would be secured for oil and gas investments to continue to thrive while production quota would be shored up.

As part of the intervention to curb the insecurity in the region, he said there was a four-legged collaboration which involved the government, security agents, oil companies and communities.

Engr. Abubakar Aliyu,  Minister of Power, on his part said the Covid-19 pandemic and the current global energy crisis show that Nigeria must work together to address current global challenges and forge partnerships for sustainable development.
He said Nigeria needs funds and international partners to invest in its energy sector, adding that the country also seeks support and collaboration to address challenges that hinder energy supplies and investment.

EU’s Matthew Baldwin while addressing the FG delegates said that the EU team is in Nigeria to meet stakeholders and engage on measures to secure energy supplies for the EU, including through the purchase of pipeline gas, LNG and hydrogen and to build a strong energy relation with Nigeria, as well as energy security, gas markets, energy transition and energy access.

Baldwim reinstated the EU’s commitment in making the gas project a reality and expressed optimism for a sustainable partnership for energy transition in Nigeria.

“I am very pleased to be working with you in a big way private sector investment is guaranteed; the more the security situation can be improved in the Niger Delta Region, the more investment we will see,” he said.

Ongoing AKK Gas Project and Trans Sahara Gas Pipelines (TSGP) project will present a huge opportunity for Nigeria and others to tap into the European markets.