By Bassey Udo
The Federal Government says it is ready to step in as alternative gas supplier Europe in the face of the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The festering war between Russia and Ukraine, has threatened gas supply to European countries, with the supplies of about 30 to 40 percent of the EU gas needs from Russia already in jeopardy.
With a cut of such huge volume of gas, the growth of the European economy would be facing a huge gas supply crisis.
However, receiving EU Ambassadors to Nigeria led by the Ambassador Samuela Isopi, Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva said Nigeria was ready to step in to bridge the gap as alternative gas supplier to Europe.
But there is a caveat: If the European Union (EU) would be willing to prevail of European oil firms to step up their investments in the development of gas and hydrocarbon infrastructure in Nigeria.
The Minister called on the EU to encourage its oil and gas companies such as Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, ENI, Total Energies, among others, to scale up their investments in the country’s 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,” Sylva said.
He told the EU delegation that what has stunted the growth in gas development in the country innrecent times has been lack of fresh investments in the sector, urging a change of attitude, if the requests by the EU to increase supplies to Europe is to be realized.
The minister said one of the biggest problems Nigeria was facing in the gas sector has been lack of investments in the required infrastructure.
In the last 10 years, he said out of over $70 billion worth of investments came to Africa, less than $4 billion came to Nigeria, despite being the biggest oil and gas economy in Africa.
If Nigeria cannot attract new investments into the oil and gas sector, he said it could be imagined where Africa was heading.
“The EU has been Nigeria a long time partner. As at today, Nigeria’s gas reserve is one of the biggest in the world. We have a proven gas reserve of 206 trillion cubic feet (TCF), and if the country were to really focus on gas exploitation, we can get up to 600 TCF. Nigeria is arguably the best territory to invest. 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 Morroco enroute Europe. All we need is new investments. We acknowledge that there are challenges in the sector, but we should partner to help solve the problem,” Sylva said.
“After the Russia-Ukraine war is over, the EU must have a buffer, or an alternative source of gas supply. Let me assure you that Nigeria can and ready to work with you to create that buffer. We can work with the EU to bridge the gap in terms of gas supply. From what is happening with Russia, gas has been weaponized, and unless you create an alternative supply source, gas will continue to be weaponized,” Syva added.
He assured the EU diplomats that Nigeria would work with them, and we are ready to be an alternative supplier of gas to the EU. But you should tell your companies here in Nigeria to plan more investments here. If your companies’ investments more in Nigeria, it would also help us to increase our gas supplies capacity to Europe,” he said.
“We would like to be reliable partners to solve the energy crisis in Europe, and we can only achieve this by working together. It is only when investments in these areas is increased that Nigeria can meet that obligation,” Sylva said.
Emphasizing the need for technology transfer in gas and renewable energy, he said Africa must be allowed to continue to exploit its hydrocarbon deposits to develop the continent.
Ambassador Isopi in her response urged Nigeria to take advantage of the ourpportunity offered by the present crisis in Europe to shore up gas supplies to Europe.
She appealed to Nigeria to step into that gap supply chain as an alternative to Russia, adding that the country must not allow the opportunity to pass it by.
Reflecting on the security situation in the Niger Delta that drastically impacted on gas supply in the last few years, Isopi urged the Nigerian government to step up security in the region to guarantee gas supply to EU member states.
She expressed concern over the spate of attacks particularly on Shell, ENI aand Total Energies’s gas infrastructure that led to the declaration of force majeure by the companies, which she noted was of great concern to Europe.
“The recent developments in the Niger Delta is of great concern to us,” she said, adding that the EU was however reassured by the recent visit by Sylva and other top government officials, including the NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari, to the site of the vandalized infrastructure in the region.
The French ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Emmaunelle Blatmann who went back memory lane on the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and France.
He noted that despite the present challenges in the sector in the country, the French companies were 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.
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