The Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) has described the product as critical to fast-tracking Nigeria’s sustainable development in the years ahead.
The President of the group, Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, disclosed this on Tuesday in Lagos while appraising the performance of the nation’s oil and gas industry as Nigeria marks her 59th Independence Anniversary.
Recalling that oil and gas has helped to raise living standards and support sustainable economic growth and diversification over the past few years, Joe-Ezigbo, who is also a Co-Founder & Executive Director, Commercial Operations, Falcon Corporation Ltd, harped on the need for government to explore the industry’s opportunities through policy measures
She explained that experience had shown that by exploring the utility of gas to the fullest, the country would overcome many of her current economic challenges.
The NGA leader explained: “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,” Joe-Ezgbo added.
According to her, the greater imperative is for the country to intentionally ramp up the pace and scale of gas development programmes and projects that will move the industry forward in a more strategic and focused manner.
The industry top player noted that today Nigeria was at the point where more focus is being given to domestic in-country opportunities for gas development and utilization as against the past when apart from encouraging gas flaring the only benefit of the commodity was as an export revenue earning resource.
She listed some of the challenges constraining the growth of the sector as raging from issues around sanctity of contracts, to the imperative to attract investments into the sector, to deal with the gross infrastructure deficit.
Joe-Ezigbo pointed out further that the problems were affecting the ability of gas to be moved into productive activities nationwide and the illiquidity issues that were impacting on existing investments in the gas industry.
On what the association had done to deal with the challenges, she said: “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 for this reason that governments are competing to attract investment capital and firms in order to grow their manufacturing and services sectors, to supply goods and services to the many millions of Africans moving to the continent’s cities,” the NGA boss added.