The Nigerian government has openly acknowledged its unpreparedness to capitalise on the significant surge in European natural gas demand, which stemmed from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict last year. As the conflict and ensuing sanctions disrupted Russia’s gas supplies to European countries, it created an energy crisis, fueling a higher demand for alternative gas sources.
Despite Nigeria’s status as a country boasting vast natural gas reserves exceeding 200 Trillion cubic feet, and holding a prominent position among global gas resource nations, the nation failed to harness the surge in demand due to inadequate investments and a lack of foresight.
Addressing the issue at the 3rd Biennial International Conference on Hydrocarbon Science & Technology (ICHST 2003) in Abuja, organised by the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo emphasised that Nigeria’s extensive natural gas reserves remain largely untapped, both for export and the domestic market.
Under the conference theme, “The Future of the Oil and Gas Industry: Opportunities, Challenges, and Development,” participants delved into discussions on shaping the nation’s energy future. Minister Ekpo stressed the imperative need for increased investment to boost gas production, ensuring a stable energy supply for the population and government revenue generation.
He said that recent global events, such as the Russian-Ukraine conflict, have vividly illuminated the delicate nature of energy demand dynamics. Specifically, in the gas sector, Nigeria squandered opportunities to meet the escalated demand for gas supply to Europe and other global regions due to unpreparedness.
Explaining further, he said that domestically, “we must fortify the gas market. Nigeria is celebrated for its gas wealth, possessing proven reserves exceeding 200 Trillion cubic feet. Nevertheless, we grapple with challenges like insufficient infrastructure, unfavorable regulatory conditions, pipeline sabotage, and an inability to maximise the value of our abundant gas resources.”
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri urged industry experts to devise solutions for Nigeria’s unique challenges, including oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
Dr. Farouq Ibrahim, the Secretary General of the Africa Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), underscored the necessity to concentrate on financing cross-border energy infrastructure projects due to the continent’s pronounced energy deficit.
He cautioned against forsaking hydrocarbon resources amid the ongoing energy transition and underscored the importance of harnessing Africa’s resources for economic development.
Dr. Ibrahim emphasised that the African continent has the largest proportion of its population living in energy poverty, with over 600 Million people lacking access to electricity, and more than 900 Million without access to modern energy for cooking and other domestic needs. In this endeavor, the Africa Energy Bank aims to boost the development of energy infrastructure, particularly in cross-border energy projects.
Dr. Henry Adimula, Principal/CEO of PTI, explained the concept of energy democratisation, ensuring that clean and sustainable energy sources are accessible to all, regardless of their location or economic status.