By John Ikani
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote says Nigeria’s current proven gas reserve which stands at 206 trillion cubic feet (tcf) would last another 50 years even if the current 7 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) consumption volume was doubled.
Wabote made this known on Thursday while delivering a paper titled: “Nigeria in the Unfolding Integration of African Market: The Oil and Gas Sector Perspective,” at the ninth anniversary of Realnews Magazine in Lagos.
According to him, in consideration of the shared volume of Nigeria’s gas reserve, the country, as being said, is a gas province with pockets of oil deposits.
“It is estimated that even if the current gas consumption level in Nigeria is doubled (we are told that we consume about seven billion standard cubic feet of gas per day). Even if you double that, the gas reserve will still last for another 50 years in Nigeria.
“Now, there is also a discussion as to 206tcf as being the proven gas reserves and in some circles, the unproven gas reserves totalled 600tcf of gas. It is also a well-known fact that Nigeria is highly dependent on revenues from the oil and gas industry to power its economy,” Wabote said.
Stating that Africa is particularly sitting in oil and gas reserves, Wabote said in 2021 alone, Namibia announced discovery of 120 billion barrels of oil comparable to the Beaumont basin in Texas, United States of America.
Other new oil discoveries in the continent, according to him, included the two billion barrels discovered in Côte d’Ivoire, the 700 million barrels discovered in Ghana and the 250 million barrels discovered in Angola.
The NCDMB boss went on to note that Africa’s oil map revealed a rapid spread of the discovery of hydrocarbon, especially in the last two decades, pointing out that between 2005 and 2015 alone, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Liberia, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania became new additions to the league of countries with hydrocarbon resources.
According to him, with the 37 billion proven oil reserves which was the 11th largest in the world and 206tcf proven gas reserve, the ninth largest in the world, Nigeria is well known as a strategic player in the global oil and gas industry.
Wabote said with the huge newly discovered and yet-to-be discovered hydrocarbon resources across the African continent, it was therefore pertinent to evaluate the implications of the unfolding integration of African market for the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
However, Wabote warned that the current pressure by Europe and industrialised nations for banks to stop financing oil and gas projects in the spirit of energy transition may escalate to the point where world technological companies will be pressured to halt the manufacturing of technological tools used for oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
He said European countries were at the forefront of the push for energy transition because the level of their hydrocarbon resources had plummeted and they are now looking for renewables as the alternative and trying to force every other country to join the fray.
In its Net Zero 2050 Report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) had called for an immediate halt of fossil fuels supply projects. Some of the major European banks have heeded the call by announcing a halt of financing of hydrocarbon-related projects as part of their support for de-carbonisation efforts.
Wabote said the pronouncements have direct and indirect implications on the global energy ecosystem, as nations, businesses, and individuals adjust to the shifting energy landscape.
“Why am I saying this? Now they have pressured the banks to stop funding hydrocarbon projects, very soon, they will pressure all the technology companies to stop developing tools required for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon if Africa doesn’t wake up,” he explained.
For Nigeria and Africa at large, he emphasised that Africa’s industrialisation agenda was at the heat of AFCFTA, stressing that fossil fuel remains a very significant part of energy mix required for the industrialisation of the continent.
In addition, he noted that the revenues obtained from the sale of hydrocarbon resources remained key driver of the economies of the African oil and gas producing countries.
He maintained that the pullback of investment on hydrocarbon development project was a challenge for oil producing countries such as Nigeria, pointing out key areas of focus that could be used to address the challenges.
He said: “The first is the collaboratory platform provided by AFCFTA to provide funding and the technology required to operate and develop hydrocarbon projects.
“The second is to have in place an investment-friendly law such as the Petroleum Industry Act 2021. This will come in handy to attract the much needed fund for projects development when the effect of premature halting of new hydrocarbon projects leads to supply shortages with attendant unbearable price hikes.
“Last point I would to make is on the need to increase in-country hydrocarbon resource utilisation. For crude oil, this must be realised through massive refining and production of petrochemicals.”
Reiterating that oil and gas deposits were in abundance in Nigeria and Africa, Wabote advised that the continent should not be swayed into abandoning their natural endowments because of the emotions and sentiments around energy transition.
While appreciating the focus of getting the oil and gas perspective in this unfolding integration of African economies, especially as it concerns Nigeria, the NCDMB boss noted that beyond all the attention being paid to energy transition, net zero emissions, green energy and others, the topic of the anniversary had elected to focus on the nexus between the oil and gas industry and the integration of African economies.
According to him, in January 2021, the whole of Africa became a one single market, courtesy of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which effectively created the world’s largest free trade area, connecting 1.3 billion people on the continent with the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $3.4 trillion.
He said to ensure the realisation of the full benefits of AfCFTA, certain key elements needed to be addressed including, infrastructure, local content, energy transition, finding resource utilisation, human capacity development and expatriation, and services.
Also speaking at the same event, the General Manager, External Relation and Sustainable Development, NLNG, Mrs. Eyono Fatayi-Williams, stated that energy would be definitely required to power Africa’s economic development as being pursued though the AfCFTA.
Fatayi-Williams said economists had already agreed that the successful implementation of the continental initiative had in it the potential for Africa’s manufacturing sector to double in size from what it is today to over a trillion dollars by 2025.
According to her, “This will create more than 14 million stable jobs and will ensure that Africa is talking to Africa. Energy will definitely be required to power the wheels of manufacturing and distribution and opening of sales opportunities for the oil and gas industry.”
On the energy transition debate, she advised that “Africa must not get emotional and get carried away by what the entire world is doing which works for them but ensure that we go by what works for Africa.
“But again, it is important that Africa works for an agenda that is set by Africans for Africans and for the good of Africans, not an agenda set by the rest of the world and Africans get stampeded into that agenda.”