The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday said that Federal Government was committed to timely completion of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project to ensure that economic challenges being witnessed in the Northern region due to shortage of gas supply were addressed.
Kachikwu, who gave this hint at a breakout session at the ongoing Nigerian Gas Association 11th International Conference and Exhibition in Abuja, noted that it was no longer desirable to depend solely on Escravos plant for gas supply nationwide.
Represented at the session by his Senior Technical Adviser, Upstream and Gas, Mr Gbite Adeniji, the minister maintained that the country could no longer tolerate a situation where 11 power plants across the country would be forced to shut down, once there was disruption in gas supply through the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS).
He expatiated: “As a government, you want to ensure that you have robustness in supply sources and robustness on delivery system. The position we have taken is that we have to look at as many options as possible in terms of supply sources.
“Today, we are very dependent on gas supply from the Niger Delta. The policy position is that we have to look at other terrains to see what is possible. We have discovered huge amount of gas resources in the offshore.
“Hence, the statement made earlier on that we must ensure that by the end of this quarter, we settle the issues of the contractual framework that would help us unlock those gas resources, so that we have optionality.
“It just does not do well that once the ELPS goes down, 11 power plants and many industrial enterprises also go down with it.
That is not the system. A huge part of investment in there, but the reality of our life in Nigeria is that it goes down with them. The planning is that we have to create options to the ELPS for Lagos”, Kachikwu added
While harping on the strategic importance of the AKK pipeline project to national gas supply needs, the minister explained that government’s plan was to ensure that the project is delivered in a manner that gives confidence to the upstream that there was viable anchor project to keep it going.
He explained that until the AKK pipeline comes on stream, the government would continue to explore all avenues of alternative gas supplies into the Northern region and into other unserved gas markets in the country.
The minister clarified: “Let us focus a bit on Northern Nigeria, which is facing quadruple whammy, which is what I would call it today. It is significantly de-industrialised; there is deforestation going on; there is desertification going on; then the population is booming.
“Cheap access to energy sources is a big solution to these problems on Northern Nigeria, which is the key essence of the AKK project”, Kachikwu stressed.