Nigeria not benefitting from gas reserves

08 March 2015, Lagos – Despite her enormous gas reserves this has not lifted the country’s economic fortunes as expected, experts have said.

Experts who gave this damning verdict at a public forum, in Lagos, recently, stressed that if the nation’s gas reserves is well harnessed, this can help to improve the nation’s economic fortunes tremendously.

Oandos-128-Km-gas-pipelineThe event was at the 12th annual Aret Adams Memorial Lecture series, with the theme: ‘Gas: An Engine of Growth for Nigeria.’

In his remarks, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Frontier Oil Ltd,Mr. Dada Thomas, urged the federal government to strengthen its vast gas reserves to augment the losses being suffered as a result of the dwindling oil prices.

He also urged government to pay more attention to gas production as it is one of the country’s major revenue generation sources, even as he regretted that Nigeria had not given the sector the necessary attention before now.

According to him, “The country had not paid much attention to the production of gas before now. I implore Nigerians to understand that the gas revolution has started, even though it has been slow here. I think in the next 10 years or so, we will see a major improvement in the way gas is being harnessed and used in the country.

“This will ensure that we grow our economy and improve the quality of life of Nigerians. It is good for the country to join the success story about production and utilisation of gas around the world, so that we won’t be left out.” Speaking further, Thomas also faulted the federal government over gas price fixing, saying the development is a disincentive to gas producers in the country.

He suggested the need for the federal government to conduct special licensing round for the sector so as to create room for more gas investors to invest heavily and unleash the potential of the sector.

“Considering the challenges besetting the gas sector, it will not be too much for the federal government to consider tax holidays for operators in the gas sector.”

“The passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law would be an added advantage to the sector in the area of growth, investment and prospect,” while noting that the dwindling oil prices was caused mainly by the development and sustenance of the United States shale gas revolution.

He also warned that the slated March 2015, set out by the Federal Government for the withdrawal of licences of non-performing marginal field operators still loomed.

He said, “The Marginal Field Operators who are not producing will know their fate in March 2015, when the government will decide whether or not to revoke their licences. My prayer is that government should look at them critically before they take their decisions. By the end of March, we will know which marginal field is retained and the ones that lost their licences.”

He added that, “My message is that those who manage to retain their licences should be effective in carrying out their businesses. I think my company and some others have shown that the marginal fields could produce maximally towards the development of the oil and gas industry in the country.”

Speaking earlier, the Group Executive Director (Power and Gas) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. David Ige said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said it recorded over 50 attacks on pipelines within its pipeline network in the last two months.

He said NNPC would continue to champion aggressive campaign to nip vandalism in the bud, with a view to realising the nation’s gas needs and potential in the country.

According to him, “Nigeria has what it takes to use gas as an engine of economic growth.”

He, however, urged Nigerians to exercise patience for the potential of the sector to come to fruition.

He said the government was aggressively driving the gas sector, to boost local consumption through competitive pricing as well as export of the product.

The GED said the current growth pattern of the gas sector, which has also witnessed a phenomenal reduction in gas flaring in the country, would also add significant value to the power sector.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki chairman of the occasion who was represented by Bassey Omiyi, former Managing Director/CEO, Shell Petroleum Development Company, lauded the speakers for the quality insights, even as he impressed on stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to step up efforts aimed at growing the fortunes of the sector.

– The Nation

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