Nigeria still has ample opportunity to utilize its gas potentials as fossil fuels will continue to be relevant in the energy mix for a long time with renewable unable to take the place of gas energy, Dr David Ige, CEO Gas Invest Ltd, has said.
Ige said natural gas is an incredibly valuable resource and the cleanest fossil fuel which is a highly efficient and cheaper form of energy than other fossil fuels, producing almost zero Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides.
Speaking in Lagos on the topic ‘Maximizing Nigeria’s Gas Potentials,’ at an education series for media on reforming the oil and gas sector in Nigeria, Dr Ige, a former Group Executive Director, Gas and Power, at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said Nigeria should continue to develop its gas sector to maximize potentials therein, as energy intensive industries will continue to require gas energy.
According to him, energy intensive industries such as iron and steel, glass, ceramics, cement and paper industries cannot utilize renewables, leaving gas as the dominant source of energy. “Gas is a key fuel for energy intensive industries; almost 30-50% of operating cost of these industries is on energy. Gas is vital for such industries and renewables are not a threat to gas as fuel for these industries,” he said.
He added that the rising global demand for gas in the automotive industry, with natural gas becoming a compelling alternative to PMS, is another major market for gas energy, noting that renewables is not a challenge in this space. Currently, over 4000 cars run on CNG in Nigeria, while the federal government has rolled out a major automotive gas use scheme expected to be far cheaper and cleaner than PMS.
Furthermore, gas based industries such as fertilizers, methanol, and petrochemicals require natural gas as feedstock, with renewables also not being a challenge. “These industries are at the core of the industrialization of any economy, numerous secondary industries are borne from these three industries. This is a key opportunity space for Nigerian gas, but competition is key and time is running out too to take a position,” Dr Ige said.
While decrying the many factors hindering gas sector development in Nigeria, has said the country could easily become a gas hub if the gas master plan is effectively implemented. “In talking about gas industrialization, Nigeria must realize that it is not competing locally but internationally and investors have a choice,” Dr Ige warned.
Lamenting the declined investments in the nation’s oil sector due to unattractive fiscals and operating environment, he stated that every oil well not drilled in Nigeria results in permanent loss of the associated gas in the ground.
Citing an example with neighbouring Equatorial Guinea which has 1.3tcf of gas reserves, he explained that the country has focused on the Punta Europa Industrial Complex which accommodates 1 MTPA methanol plant – one of the largest in Africa. It also has 4 MTPA LNG Plant, 3 Berthing Facilities for LNG, LPG and Methanol, with further plans to become a gas processing centre for all stranded gas fields in the Gulf of Guinea as well as to construct the first LNG storage and regasification plant in West Africa, whereas Nigeria with about 180tcf has failed to get similar initiative off the ground.
To this end, Ige said, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) must address four key levers which include energy security, structurally competitive gas sector, efficient and competitive gas market and a strong regulator that can transform the anti-competitive nature of the market to an open access market.