Nigeria accidentally discovers more gas

June 27, 2021
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Nigeria has accidentally discovered an additional 206 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves while in search of crude oil, Minister of State Petroleum, Mr Timipre Sylva, said on Saturday.

Speaking in Abuja, Mr Sylva noted that the discovery of an additional 600 trillion cubic feet would enable the country to achieve the level of development expected of one rich in oil and gas.

Explaining the discovery, he said: “We were looking for crude oil but accidentally found gas. The belief is that if we aim to look for gas dedicatedly, we will find up to 600 trillion cubic meters of gas.”

As at 2017, Nigeria had 187 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, ranking ninth in the world and accounting for about three percent of the world’s total natural gas reserves. 

According to the Department of Petroleum Resources, the West African nation recorded a marginal increase in gas reserves, peaking at 203 trillion cubic feet in 2020, before the accidental discovery this year.

Big transition

Mr Sylva noted that the country is gradually transitioning from gas to renewable fuel and that this will be accomplished once it fully capitalises on benefits associated with gas.

“We are transiting … that is why we are talking about gas. We are seeing gas as a bridge to renewable fuels. We came from coal, which is solid, to crude oil, and are now moving to gas and then to renewables.’’

The minister said it is worrying that the use of gas has not expanded.

“We have not used gas to drive our cars and only a few people use it to cook. We have not used gas to generate electricity or fire fertiliser-blending plants, so why should we abandon it and move to renewables?”

He noted the need to address lack of knowledge about gas use at sub-national level, especially in rural areas.

“The federal government cannot just dump cylinders there,” he said.

Even with the abundance of gas, many Nigerians still do not have access to electricity, a sector that is supposed to be driven by gas.

National campaign

The minister said Nigeria has reduced gas flaring by 97 percent, hence the need to promote, explore and expand the domestic and international market for the product.

In a national gas use campaign, the government has devised three strategies to create awareness on the need for every home to use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking.

Mr  Dayo Adeshina, programme manager of the National LPG Expansion Plan in the office of the Vice president, said Sunday that the first step is an awareness campaign targeting the government and the people.

“We need the State governments to first understand what we are doing. If they don’t, we are dead on arrival. We need to meet market women, traditional rulers, artisans and other people,” he said.

“The best way is to have collaborative efforts at the sub-national level. We intend to start with two states in each geo-political zone.”

Speaking in Abuja, Mr Adeshina said Lagos and Abuja have had their initial engagements with the government, which he noted should also partner with industry players as they are the providers of the gas.

The official said another strategy is partnering with the industrial sector on infrastructure, especially on safety, because of the perception that gas is a dangerous fuel.

The industry must use high quality equipment that meets international standards, he said, adding “there is the need to change the way things are done”.

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