Timipre Sylva, Minister of State, Petroleum
Following the war between Russia and Ukraine, which is threatening the supply of gas to European countries by Russia, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, has revealed that Nigeria is ready to offer its services as an alternative gas supplier to Europe.
He urged the European Union (EU) to increase investments in gas and hydrocarbons in Nigeria to enable the country to meet the bloc’s energy needs.
This is coming as the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has declared that the emergence of China as almost the sole destination for Nigeria’s solid minerals resources export poses a risk to the country’s economy.
NEITI advised the federal government to develop a business relationship with other countries to reduce over-dependence on China.
Sylva spoke when he received a delegation led by the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi on a courtesy call to his office in Abuja.
The minister’s call comes on the heels of the festering war between Ukraine and Russia, which threatens gas supply to European countries.
Russia currently supplies about 30-40 per cent of the EU’s gas needs.
In a statement issued yesterday by his Senior Adviser – Media and Communications, Mr Horatius Egua, the minister said Nigeria was ready to step in as an alternative gas supplier to Europe, urging the EU to encourage its oil and gas companies such as Shell, Eni, and Total Energies to scale up investments in the Nigerian gas sector.
“One of the things we warned against earlier was the speed with which 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,” the minister said.
He told the delegation that what stunted growth in the development of gas in Nigeria was the lack of fresh investments, and called for a change of attitude on the part of the EU if its requests to increase supplies to Europe would be realised.
According to the minister, one of the biggest challenges the sector has is a lack of investments.
“In the last 10 years, over $70 billion worth of investments came to Africa, but sadly less than $4 billion came to Nigeria.
“Surprisingly, we are the biggest in Africa. If we cannot attract investments to Nigeria, you know where we are heading.
“You have been our longtime friend. As of today, our gas reserve is one of the biggest in the world. We have a proven gas reserve of 206 tcf and if we focus on gas exploitation we can get up to 600 tcf.
“We are already building gas infrastructure such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project, expected to take gas to Algeria, and the West Africa Gas Pipeline project designed to take gas to Morocco,” Sylva explained.
The minister further said that after the Russia-Ukrainian war, the EU must have a buffer or an alternative source of gas, and collaboration with Nigeria in that regard was paramount.
He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to working with the EU to bridge the gap in terms of gas, adding that from the Russian-Ukranian crisis, it was evident that gas had been weaponised and unless it created an alternative, it would only get worse.
He reassured the EU diplomats of Nigeria’s readiness to be an alternative supplier of gas to the EU but urged its companies operating in the country to invest more here.
“We would like to be reliable partners to solve the energy problem in Europe and we can only achieve this by working together. It is only when investing in these areas is increased that Nigeria can meet that obligation,” Sylva said.
While emphasising the need for the transfer of technology in gas and renewable energy, he said Africa must be allowed to continue to exploit its hydrocarbon deposits to develop the continent.
In her response, Isopi urged Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the present crisis in Europe to shore up gas supplies to Europe.