The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva has identified natural gas as a key resource for a just energy transition and has all the credentials to help Nigeria meet up with her commitments to the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Sylva pointed this out during the 2022 annual public lecture of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) Bwari, Abuja, themed ‘‘Inclusive Energy Transition: Key Issues, Investment Opportunities and Barriers Towards Achieving the Decades of Gas Initiative in Nigeria” held today (April 28, 2022) in Abuja.
“Natural gas will play a critical and long-term role in achieving energy security and enhancing environmental outcomes for Nigerians as the global energy sector undergoes unprecedented change. Nigeria is well-positioned to pioneer future natural gas technology and compete in global markets that are constantly changing. Nigeria has huge natural gas reserves and a highly skilled workforce,” he said.
Sylva said as one of the world’s last energy frontiers, Nigeria is undertaking a transition pathway that combines technology, investment, business strategies and government policy that will enable the nation to embrace a low-carbon energy system, with natural gas playing a pivotal role over the next generation, roughly between now and 2060.
He, however, pointed out the need for strategic collaborations if Nigeria must achieve its Decade of Gas Development Initiative as announced by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020.
“To make that happen, individual, corporate Nigeria and professional associations like The Nigerian Society of Engineers, as well as governments at all levels, must develop an energy literacy system that includes a profound understanding that energy pervades all aspects of our lives and is a key component of our social fabric, one that is so influential and charged as a strong force of national unity.
“For me, achieving an inclusive energy transition whilst tackling key issues to attract investment opportunities to achieve the Decade of Gas initiative alongside the SDGs will need integrated engineering solutions that provide resilient infrastructure, sustainable energy, and access to the latest innovative technologies.
“Engineers will need to leverage existing and widely deployed technologies and future developments including next-generation mobile broadband, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, 3D printing and others, to provide the tools for integrated solutions of the decade of gas for a sustainable and just energy transition,” he said.
The minister called on the society to lend its voice to the contributions of engineers in progressing the Decade of Gas initiative through its network of national and international engineering member institutions. Also, he charged the society to contribute to the discourse on the role of engineering and engineers in the development of technologically and environmentally feasible solutions for Nigeria.
He added that the ministry is ready to collaborate with the NSE on the Decade of Gas journey because “we know that engineering is about the knowledge and practice of solving problems”. Sylva stressed that the NSE has a fundamental role to play in meeting underlying human needs, reducing poverty, supporting securing and sustainable development, rebuilding infrastructure, bridging the knowledge divide and encouraging intercultural collaboration.
According to him, the growth of our gas reserves is a critical lever to achieving the Federal Government’s Decade of Gas Initiative, aimed at transforming Nigeria into a gas-powered economy by 2030.
“The Decade of Gas is a decade of opportunities – ranging from a decade of elimination of gas flaring, [providing] more domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), [ensuring] a fully gas-powered economy – natural gas as we all know is also food from fertilisers, as components of gas are used to make fertiliser, helping to feed billions of people.
“The foregoing is why I have repeatedly stated that Nigeria requires fossil fuels as her baseload energy source because [having] only renewable energy as the sole pathway to energy transition is a source of concern for Nigeria and African countries that are still working to achieve baseload industrialisation, address energy poverty and ensure reliable power supply,” he stated.
He pointed out that the recently passed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 has kick-started tremendous changes in the gas industry.
Sylva added that the president’s assent to the Petroleum Industry Bill on August 16, 2021, marked the end of decades of inaction, ambiguity, indecision, and under-investment in Nigeria’s petroleum industry.
He called for the establishment of the African Energy Bank to address our peculiar energy-related crises and take Africans out of the doldrums of energy poverty in line with SDG No 7, if the Decade of Gas initiative must achieve the desired results.
“The inclusive energy transition, the Decade of Gas initiative and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainability all provide a roadmap for action and the NSE needs to be at the forefront of implementation by applying scientific and technical knowledge and experience to turn innovative ideas into sustainable projects that benefit everyone.
“My ministry will work to create an efficient regulatory environment with regulations that are well-aligned and streamlined. This is because stable, predictable and jurisdictionally competitive regulation will keep the natural gas industry flexible enough to encourage innovation across the country, as well as in specific industrial parks and clusters and designated industrial zones,” he added.