Stories by Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The federal government has said that when passed, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will resolve most of the knotty issues that have hindered the development of the oil and gas sector in the country since the 50s.
Speaking when he rounded off a panel discussion at a pre-summit conference in Abuja, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, argued that Nigeria has been going in the wrong direction since the discovery of oil and gas in the country.
He stated in spite of global shift to renewable energy, Nigeria would continue to rely on natural gas as transition fuel for its power generation while pursuing renewables for off-grid power.
Sylva, vowed that the federal government would conclude the review of the gas master plan to accommodate the current realities and continue to support de-carbonisation efforts and energy substitution.
“One thing is very clear, that we went in the wrong direction in the oil and gas business since the 50s and it’s not too late from all that has been said, to as usual try to trade blames, as to who was responsible.
“Some will say it’s from the government side or that investors decided to focus on oil and shut in gas, so that sector was not explored adequately. Or that the fiscal framework was not there to enable the development of the gas sector, but today I want to say that the solution to all these is in sight and that solution is in the PIB.
“The National Assembly has shown commitment that PIB will be passed in April or a few months from now and then all the blame game will end,” the minister maintained.
Still on the PIB, Sylva posited that the government has bent over backwards in a lot of provisions in its engagement with investors, but queried whether the businessmen were ready to stay committed despite government’s efforts.
He added: “For example, a company will agree to invest $15 billion in a challenged environment like Mozambique, just as challenged as Nigeria, more or less and will be stalling on an investment in Nigeria where he’s not actually spending any money because most of it is from debt.
“We must see commitment from our investors that when we bend over backwards, they will also be bending over backwards and encourage us and that’s why the PIB will ensure the growth of the sector in Nigeria because global developments now mean we have to begin to pay attention to the race to renewables, move away from oil and concentrate on gas.”
According to the minister, gas pricing was one of the things that would enable growth in the sector, stressing that the country was doing everything to ensure the appropriate pricing of gas to enable the growth of the sector.
“NNPC will be charged to conclude project development agreements with PSC contractors within two months so as to unlock PSC gas to the domestic market,” the minister promised.