April 16, 2024

Nigeria, Spain meet again, to strengthen bilateral trade relations on renewable, oil and gas

Oredola Adeola

The Nigerian and Spanish Governments have met again to agree on deepening modalities for the implementation of signed bilateral trade agreements between the two countries, with a special focus on every aspect of the energy industry including oil and gas and renewable energy.

This was the major highlight of separate meetings held between Jose Manuel Albares, Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday.

The recent meeting was a follow-up to President Muhammadu Buhari’s state visit to Madrid, Spain in 2022, when he signed bilateral agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with the Spanish government. President Buhari had during that visit encouraged Spanish business leaders to take advantage of the opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

EnergyDay’s check showed that Spain largest buyer of Nigeria’s oil and gas as it currently bought crude oil, and Liquefied natural gas (LPG) worth N580.26 billion and N282.49 billion respectively from the country as of the third quarter of 2022 (Q3 2022).

Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, earlier during the meeting with the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and decision-makers of the Spanish oil and gas sector discussed the modalities for the implementation of signed agreements between the two countries, unlocking areas of investment opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

Sylva, who describe Spain as one of the first countries to visit in 2023, said the visit could tell the importance of the relationship between the countries, adding that Nigeria required investments in the oil and gas sector, being the core of the economy.

He said, “These are people that they would have ordinarily gone to meet in their country before any bid round, but in this case, the potential investors are here by themselves, so you can see why this meeting is very important.

“As a country, we need a lot of investments, we need Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Spain is one of the countries that we believe can give us a lot of that investment to help in development,” he said.

According to Sylva, Nigeria currently has proven gas reserves up to over 200 trillion cubic feet of gas, and with focus on the exploration for additional gas, Nigeria can increase these reserves to up to 600 TCF.

He further said that Europe also required gas currently, hence Nigerian energy transition programme should be more mindful of the development of gas as well, because there was the clamour from some sources to move so quickly to renewables.

“And as a country we felt that we are going to move on the transition train through the instrumentality of gas.

“Spain is in the position to also support us in this area of security because insecurity is one of the major problem facing the industry today. So we are going to be looking up to Spain.

“And then of course, Spain will also look up to us for further supply of gas. They are also interested in the pipeline that we are developing to Morocco. I believe that is going to settle the issue of vessel flight from Nigeria to Europe,” he said.

Engr Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) had during the meeting, revealed that the visit is very timely and appropriate in terms of investment opportunities.

According to him, the NUPRC, on behalf of the Federal Government has launched the 2022 Mini Bid Round exercise for deep offshore fields and the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme among other opportunities that exist in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

Prof. Osinbajo in a separate meeting with the delegation when they visited his office at the Presidential villa, revealed that Spain has been a very good friend of Nigeria.

He said, “Aside from the economic connections, it has been the largest importer of our gas and the third-largest importer of crude oil.

“There is every good reason why we should consider that in good times and bad, Spain has remained a good friend. This is a relationship that is not just based on talk, but there is a lot of action.

“I am extremely optimistic that our relationship will become more robust in the months and years to come. Nigeria definitely feels that it has a strong partner and brother in Spain. And I hope that it stays this way and even better.”

“The future, obviously, is going to be interesting. For the next few years, we are going to be confronted with a challenging world. One of the issues will be energy. Both energy security and energy transition. These are two critical issues.

“There is no question at all that we must make alternative arrangements to assure energy security. And in our case, with the Climate Change agreement, we want to make sure that the transition from fossil fuels and other pollutants is as smooth as possible in the interest and development of our people.”

Speaking further, Prof. Osinbajo noted the possibilities for cooperation between Nigeria and Spain, noting that “there are companies in the power sector that are interested in doing business in Nigeria. In our Energy Transition Plan, we have a whole menu of projects in the power sector to show companies that are interested in investing.

“We hope this would interest private companies coming from Spain. I hope that this visit will be one where they will take a look at our energy plan and some of what we are trying to do, not just the short-term but the long-term issues that we are trying to resolve.”

M.r Albares, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain, in his remark restated his country’s commitment to strengthening relations with Nigeria, stating that “Nigeria’s partnership with Spain in the energy sector is important.

He said, “The relationship between our countries is mutually beneficial and we will continue to try our best. We are committed to supporting Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, especially sharing notes on best practices and implementing (renewable energy) projects in Nigeria.”