Nigeria got a paltry seven per cent or N1.666 trillion ($4 billion) from a $70 billion (about N29.1trillion) Africa’s gas investments portfolio in the last 10 years despite being Africa’s giant with over 600 trillion cubic feet of gas, said the minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva.
Speaking during a courtesy call by the European Union (EU) ambassadors to Nigeria led by Ambassador Samuela Isopi, while wooing the EU to invest more in gas following the urgent need for gas supply in the continent, Sylva said, “One of the biggest problems we have in the sector has been investments. In the last 10 years over $70bn worth of investments came to Africa, but sadly less than $4bn came to Nigeria, and surprisingly we are the biggest in Africa. If we cannot attract investments in Nigeria, you know where we are heading.”
- Obasanjo: Nigerian economy frustrating SMEs, women
- NIGERIA DAILY: Super Eagles Can Rise Again, This Is How
He, therefore, urged the EU to step up investments in gas and hydrocarbon in Nigeria to be able to help meet the EU energy needs, according to a statement by the minister’s spokesman, Horatius Egua.
The call is coming on the heels of the festering war between Ukraine and Russia which is threatening gas supply to European countries as Russia presently supplies about 30 to 40 per cent of EU gas needs.
Mr Sylva further said Nigeria was ready to step in as an alternative gas supplier to Europe, but called on the EU to encourage its oil and gas companies such as Shell, Eni and Total Energies to scale up investments in in Nigeria.
He used the occasion to harp on gas as energy transition for Nigeria, saying, “One of the things we warned against was the speed with which the EU was taking away investments in fossil fuels. We warned that the speed was faster than they were developing renewable energy. You can see now that what we were warning against is what is happening now.”
On Nigeria’s proven gas reserve, the minister said, “As at today, our gas reserve is one of the biggest in the world. We have a proven gas reserve of 206tcf, and if we really focus on gas exploitation we can get up to 600tcf.
“Nigeria is arguably the best territory to invest in. We are already building gas infrastructure such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project which is expected to take gas to Algeria, and the West Africa Gas Pipeline project designed to take gas to Morocco.
“As you can see, we are already building infrastructure that will take gas to Europe. All we need is investments. We acknowledge that there are challenges in the sector, but we should partner to help solve the problems.”
Responding, Ambassador Isopi appealed to Nigeria to step into that supply chain gap as an alternative to Russia, adding that the country must not allow the opportunity to pass it by.
While reflecting on the security situation in the Niger Delta that drastically impacted on gas supply in the last few years, as she expressed concern over the spate of attacks on Shell, Eno and Total Energies’s gas infrastructure that led to the declaration of force majeure by the companies, she said, “The recent developments in the Niger Delta is of great concern to us,” adding that the EU was, however, reassured by the recent visit by Sylva and other top government officials to the sites of the vandalised infrastructure in the region.
The French ambassador to Nigeria, Emmaunelle Blatmann, who went down memory lane on the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and France, noted that despite the present challenges in the sector in the country, “Our companies are ready to commence new investments in Nigeria.’’
Other ambassadors who spoke in support of a strengthened economic and diplomatic relations between the EU and Nigeria were the Spanish ambassador to Nigeria, Juan Sell; Portuguese ambassador, Luis Barros; and Italian deputy head of mission, Tarek Chazli.