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EU Intensifies Pressure on Nigeria to Supply Gas to Europe
*Sylva proposes multi-pronged approach to tackle crude oil theft
*Port Harcourt to begin refining of 60,000bpd in 2023
Ejiofor Alike in Lagos and Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The European Union (EU) has intensified pressure on Nigeria to supply gas to Europe as it attempts to wean itself off Russian gas on the back of Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine.
This is coming as the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, at the weekend suggested a multi-faceted approach to resolving the massive oil theft, vandalism and outright sabotage of Nigeria’s oil facilities which have combined to hobble Nigeria’s ability to meet its crude production quota.
Speaking during a visit to Sylva by yet another delegation from Europe led by the Deputy Director General, EU Energy Platform Task Force, Mr Mathew Baldwin, the leader of the delegation, reiterated the EU’s commitment to making the ongoing gas projects a reality.
“I am very pleased to be working with you in a big way…the more the security situation can be improved in the Niger Delta region, the more investment we will see,” he said.
He stated that the visit was part of an effort to establish a new sustainable partnership and renewed investment drive with Nigeria.
“We’re proud of supporting such efforts. The more there are improved investments in the Niger-Delta and the minister is leading in this direction, the more the investments will come in”, he restated.
A major area of collaboration, the parties agreed on is the ongoing Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas Project and the Trans Sahara Gas Pipelines (TSGP) project regarded as one of the world’s longest offshore pipelines and is expected to transport gas from Nigeria through Morocco to Europe.
Despite its intention to raise gas supply, Nigeria has been unable to do so as a result of declining funding, attacks on upstream facilities and theft of petroleum products.
But Sylva while speaking during a visit by the delegation from Europe, advocated the deployment of technology, security forces, community collaboration and increased government action to halt the menace.
It would be one of the several visits in the last few months to Nigerian authorities, including the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) by officials from Europe.
The minister called for collaboration with the EU in the areas of security, technology deployment, project financing and more private sector participation to meet the country’s plan of stepping into the void created by the aftermath of the Russian-Ukraine altercation.
He frowned on the decision by the EU and Western nations to withdraw investment in fossil fuels, insisting that hydrocarbons will continue to be relevant while gas would be used as a transition fuel in the coming years.
Sylva, therefore, appealed to the delegation to impress upon their businessmen and financial institutions to debottleneck the process of obtaining loans and other sources of funding to ramp up the exploration of oil and gas.
The minister recalled that the delegation was earlier in the Niger Delta to see for themselves the situation, assuring that the region would be secured for oil and gas investments to continue to thrive while the country’s production quota would be raised.
“Security is one area of cooperation with the EU. They went to the Niger Delta to see the security situation for themselves. Part of the solution is technology deployment.
“I’ve always advocated for collaboration in this regard. We have to have a four-legged approach. We have to have the government, security agencies and communities working together. We also need to have the technology. We’re discussing with the EU how we can collaborate on developing technology.
“We have lots of gas projects like the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline and so on and we need the environment to be conducive to achieve all this. The project will deliver gas to Europe in a few years to come,” he noted.
The minister assured the EU delegation of the federal government’s commitment to deepening investment in gas since it had been adopted as Nigeria’s energy transition fuel and expressed confidence that the EU had given a lot of commitment in that regard.
“We’re together on the same page with the rest of the world in using gas as the energy transition fuel. We’re working together in technology development and financing.
“I know it’s the private sector that invests but the EU is responsible for policy direction and they have shown a lot of commitments. We’ve been having discussions. This is not the first and won’t be the last. it’s a good beginning for us,” the minister explained.
Port Harcourt to Begin Refining of 60,000bpd in 2023
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited, Mr Ahmed Dikko, has assured that the rehabilitation of the old Port Harcourt Refinery with a refining capacity of 60,000 barrels per day will be completed and put to use by the first quarter of 2023.
He gave the assurance when the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on the state of the country’s refineries visited the facility in Rivers State for an on-the-spot assessment of the $1.5 billion rehabilitation project of the facility.
Dikko said the old Port Harcourt refinery, referred to as Area Five, would be the first of three phases of the project.
He said by the time the entire project is completed by the end of 2024, the facility would have a refining capacity of 210 bpd.
Dikko expressed confidence that they would stick to the timelines and within the cost approved for the project.
He said despite costing more, some of the equipment required for the rehabilitation had to be air freighted to ensure that they stick as much as possible to the schedule that they have.
“We plan to finish Area 5 by the first quarter of next year, so we can begin to run it. It is the old refinery. It is a 60, 000 barrels per day capacity plant and it is a priority for us at this point. The other parts of the refinery would come a few months after that.
“We are on track and managing the process very well and would continue to do the best we can at all times to ensure that we meet these expectations we put on ourselves so we all would be proud of all these activities and begin to have some refining capacity in Port Harcourt,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to the House of Representatives for their support.
Chairman of the House Ad-Hoc Committee, Hon. Ganiyu Johnson, who was conducted around the facility along with his members by the MD expressed satisfaction with the level of work.
He said: “So far on behalf of my committee members, we are satisfied with the level of work because we did not expect this level of performance when we left Abuja. But after going round we are satisfied with the level of performance.
“Nigerians should bear with the company. We know that the solution to all oil subsidies is refineries. The oil subsidy would be a thing of the past. We should be able to reduce it to the barest minimum.
“We owe Nigerians the duty to ensure this place is working. Because if these refineries are not working, we would continue to suffer and God forbid we hope it would not get to a stage an average man cannot buy fuel and that is why we want to encourage you and support you and make sure you complete this refinery. Even if it is just Port Harcourt for now, it means we would be able to deliver 210, 000 bpd.”
He urged the MD to fast-track the completion of the refinery and make sure it is delivered on schedule.