April 16, 2024

West Africa poised to become a global gas region, but rattled by poor electricity access, aging infrastructure- Engr. Komolafe, CE NUPRC

Abel Nsa, Director and Head of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Center, representative of Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, at NAICE 2023 with other delegates

Oredola Adeola


West Africa is on the verge of becoming a major gas region, driven by Nigeria’s vast gas reserves and recent discoveries in Senegal and Mauritania, however, a significant portion of the population in the region still lacks access to electricity due to outdated and inadequate infrastructure, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has revealed.


Engr. Komolafe who was represented by Abel Nsa, Director and Head of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Center, in the Office of the CE, NUPRC, made this known in Lagos while delivering a keynote address at the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Annual International Conference and Exhibition, while making a remark on the theme, “Balancing Energy Accessibility, Affordability, and Sustainability: Strategic Options for Africa.”


According to him the development of natural gas is well underway in several countries in West Africa, and many international companies are rapidly expanding their investments in African gas development projects.

Komolafe noted that as natural gas becomes monetized in Africa and in West Africa, the resources can also play a larger role in economic development, if leaders in the region show greater commitment to investment in the natural infrastructure for development of the gas molecule in the reserves. 
He said, “Natural gas has been globally recognized as our transition fuel as it clearly offers a strategic competitive advantage to powering our continent sustainably through the creation of energy access for all in the short to- medium term.
The CCE further noted that despite being a gas-based region, Africa as a continent, still grapples with energy poverty and security, adding that about 60% of the populace lacks access to energy and clean cooking fuel, even as the global push for energy transition progress.
He said, “The energy sector in Nigeria and across Africa faces an existential challenge of the urgent need to transit from a fossil fuel dependent economy to a decarbonized economy.
“Millions of people in sub-Sharan Africa still live or are living without access to electricity while some only have access to very limited or unreliable electricity,” the CCE said.
Komolafe, therefore, emphasised that economic prosperity in Africa is deeply dependent on energy access and consumption. He also suggested that the leadership of the continent should look at how to address the old and insufficient infrastructure, to meet the growing energy demand of its vibrant young population.
He added that the Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) has created the Midstream and Downstream Gas Infrastructure Fund (MDGIF), domiciled in the Authority – a key lever and enabler for de-risking investments in the midstream and downstream industries’ downstream gas value chain.
He said, “The MDGIF is to cater for the gap in gas infrastructure in many parts of the country and encourage local participation in gas-based industrialization aimed at deepening domestic gas utilisation.”
Speaking about the emission reduction and decarbonization strategies of the Federal Government, the Commission Chief Executive(CCE) further disclosed that the Authority has emplaced relevant regulatory frameworks (from the gazetted Regulations and Guidelines) for project monitoring to ensure emission reduction and decarbonization strategies embedded into all projects from conceptualization in alignment to Government’s commitment to a carbon-neutrality – Goal Zero targets by 2060, Fugitive/Greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction by 2031 and, in the same vein eliminating gas flaring by 2030.
“We are also actively exploring and facilitating technologies that enable cleaner processing of fossil fuels for mandatory adoption industry-wide.
“As the energy transition evolves, there is an opportunity to accelerate development across the gas value chain, providing a low-carbon bridge to a future of sustainable energy,” Komolafe said.
EnergyDay’s checks showed that Africa currently holds approximately 8 percent of the world’s proven reserves of natural gas and is responsible for a little over 5 percent of world gas production. Nigeria dominates the West Africa oil and gas upstream market due to a large number of upstream projects coming up in the country, and operators gaining confidence and increased production.
The NUPRC boss further stated that while environmental sustainability is majorly driving the energy transition, he however cautioned that the transition to a decarbonized system can only be successful if it simultaneously provides access to affordable energy, facilitates economic growth and development along with environmental sustainability.
He therefore emphasized that the energy is the most critical enabler and driver required to develop, sustain, and grow national, regional, and global economic activities in its entire spectrum.