The Federal Government has urged the European Union (EU) to step up investments in gas and hydrocarbon in Nigeria to meet the bloc’s energy needs.
This is as European countries are currently facing gas supply challenges due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Persecondnews.com reports that Russia supplies about 30-40 percent of the EU’s gas needs.
The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who made the call during a courtesy visit by the EU Ambassadors to Nigeria, led by Amb. Samuela Isopi, said Nigeria was ready to step in as an alternative gas supplier to Europe.
Sylva further urged EU to encourage its oil and gas companies such as Shell, Eni, and Total Energies to scale up investments in the Nigerian gas sector.
He said: “One of the things we warned against earlier was the speed with which EU was taking away investments in fossil fuels.
“We warned that the speed was faster than they were developing renewable energy. You can see now that what we were warning against is what is happening now.”
According to the minister, one of the biggest challenges the sector has are lack of investments.
“In the last 10 years, over 70 billion dollars worth of investments came to Africa, but sadly less than four billion dollars came to Nigeria.
“Surprisingly, we are the biggest in Africa. If we cannot attract investments to Nigeria, you know where we are heading.
“You have been our long time friend. As at today, our gas reserve is one of the biggest in the world. We have a proven gas reserve of 206 tcf and if we really focus on gas exploitation we can get up to 600 tcf.
“We are already building gas infrastructure such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project, expected to take gas to Algeria, and the West Africa Gas Pipeline project designed to take gas to Morroco,” he said.
The minister further said that after the Russia-Ukrainian war, EU must have a buffer or an alternative source of gas, and collaboration with Nigeria in that regard was paramount.
He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to working with the EU to bridge the gap in terms of gas, adding that from the Russian-Ukranian crisis, it was evident that gas had been weaponised and unless it created an alternative, it would only get worse.
Sylva reassured the EU diplomats of Nigeria’s readiness to be an alternative supplier of gas to the EU, but urged its companies operating in the country to invest more in Nigeria.
“We would like to be reliable partners to solve the energy problem in Europe and we can only achieve this by working together.
“It is only when investing in these areas is increased that Nigeria can meet that obligation.”
Emphasizing on the need for transfer of technology in gas and renewable energy, Sylva noted that Africa must be allowed to continue to exploit its hydrocarbon deposits to develop the continent.
In her remarks, Isopi urged Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the present crisis in Europe to shore up gas supplies to Europe.
She appealed to Nigeria to step into that gap supply chain as an alternative to Russia, adding that the country must not allow the opportunity to pass it by.
Isopi urged the Nigerian government to step up security in the Niger-Delta region to guarantee gas supply to EU member states, as she expressed concern over the spate of attacks on Shell, Eno and Total Energies’s gas infrastructure that led to the declaration of force majure by the companies.
The envoy added that the EU was however, reassured by the recent visit by Sylva and other top government officials to the site of the vandalized infrastructure in the region.
Other ambassadors who spoke in support of a strengthened economic and diplomatic relations between the EU and Nigeria, were the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Juan Sell; Portuguese Ambassador, Luis Barros, and Italian Deputy Head of Mission, Tarek Chazli.