59th Independence: Gas remains key to unlocking our economic potentials, says NGA President
By Abisola THOMPSON
The President, Nigerian Gas Association (NGA), Mrs Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, says production of gas remains the key to unlocking Nigeria’s economic potentials.
Joe-Ezigbo made the assertion in an exclusive interview with TBI Africa team on Tuesday in Lagos while appraising the performance of the oil and gas industry as Nigeria marks her 59th Independence Anniversary.
The president said using gas to unlock potentials would make the country overcome many economic challenges.
Joe-Ezigbo, said the oil and gas industry had helped to raise living standards and support sustainable economic growth and diversification.
“The gas industry in Nigeria has come into its own. There was a time when gas was not recognised for its own merit as a critical resource for industrial development.
“It was rather seen as a nuisance bye-product of crude oil.
“Today, under the ambit of a dedicated National Gas Policy as was passed in June 2017, Gas is recognised fully as an independent fiscal resource and industry in its own right.
” Granted, it took us too long to come to this point and we have lost billions of dollars equivalent directly to Gas flaring in the process.
” As well as other billions of dollars lost indirectly through the industrialization and contribution to gross domestic product that could have otherwise happened if the flared gas was otherwise channeled into productive use over the years,” she said.
According to her, the nation has to be mindful of the lessons inherent therein.
Joe-Ezigbo said, “The greater imperative is for us to intentionally ramp up the pace and scale of gas development programs and projects that will move our industry forward in a more strategic and focused manner.
“ Today we are also at the point where we see more of a focus on domestic in-country opportunities for gas development and utilisation, as distinct from where we were decades back where besides flaring the only other focused use for gas was as an export revenue earning resource.”
Joe-Ezigbo , who is also a Co-Founder & Executive Director, Commercial Operations, Falcon Corporation Ltd., said the gas industry was one that had a lot of challenges.
The president said that no doubt the Nigerian Gas Association had been speaking for years about the challenges in the industry.
She noted some of the challenges which vary from issues around sanctity of contracts, to the imperative to attract investments into the sector, to deal with the gross infrastructure deficit.
She said such was affecting the ability of gas to be moved into productive activity across the nation and to the illiquidity issues that were impacting on existing investments in the gas industry.
“We have advocated extensively on the need for a reduction of government’s intervention in the sector and particularly with reference to pricing on tariffs and the need to allow for a willing-buyer/willing-seller market-led framework to evolve.
“We have advocated continuously for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, to enable clarity as to the fiscal framework under-pinning gas industry investments, and so much more.
“It is unfortunate that many of these same sets of challenges continued to affect the industry.
“That said, the gas industry is again one that has significant prospects, and I repeat that they’re prospects that have the potential to transform the landscape of economic development in Nigeria.
“ It is a well proven fact that there is a correlation between the amount of natural gas that is used and consumed in-country and the level of economic development of any nation,’’ Joe-Ezigbo added.
Joe-Ezigbo said: Indeed, it is said that every 1 dollar of gas that is consumed in-country contributes an extra three dollars to GDP.
“Opportunities abound for us for us to ramp up the pace of industrialization in this country by building infrastructure to take gas across the country for use in power generation, as fuel and or feedstock in various gas-based industries such as methanol plants, fertilizer plants and the like.
“These kinds of industries, the GBI’s allow us to create value addition and earn export revenues.
“These kinds of industries also create thousands of jobs that can then absorb a significant chunk of our teeming mass of unemployed youths, something that we need to be thinking through as a nation if we are to avoid what is clearly an impending social implosion.
“There are opportunities for investment in pipelines, pipe mills, in various midstream transportation, processing and storage facilities, in the transportation sector, and so on.
“The huge infrastructure dearth which we face, at the same time then also constitute a huge investment opportunity.
“The question is how attractive is the industry at this time and what kinds of signals are we sending to existing and potential investors in the sector? A lot of work needs to be done, that is for sure,’’ the NGA president emphasized.