By Chineme Okafor
Abuja — If Nigeria pass the Petroleum Industry Bills (PIBs) which have been split into four parts for ease of passage, the country may become the world’s third largest holder of gas reserves, a former Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Lead Consultant to the National Assembly on the PIBs, Mr. Osten Olorunsola, has disclosed.
Presently, the world’s ninth largest holder of proven gas reserves, Olorunsola, explained at a recent roundtable organised by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) in collaboration with Media Initiative on Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI) in Abuja, that country could leverage the expected passage of the laws to grow the country’s gas reserves and play big in the emerging global gas business.
He said only the PIBs passage and assent can make Nigeria become a competitively attractive country for gas-based investments amongst others.
“Nigeria needs to move more from 1,500 depths to deeper offshore where the acreages are open. Nigeria can easily become the third in the world in terms of gas reserves if we do the needed exploration work,” Olorunsola added.
He further explained that until the PIBs become law, the country would not attract the right investments needed for such deep offshore exploration which he said ran into billions of dollars.
While Nigeria sat on its oil sector reform law over the past 18 years, he noted that some East Africa countries have found about 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas within just about the last 10 years.
Clearly, Olorunsola, stated that Nigeria was no longer the only ‘darling’ of oil and gas investors who sought for destinations in the continent to put their monies.
According to him, “By 2025, the whole of Africa can have gas. The countries we use to sell to could soon start selling to us. We may be sitting on generations because we refused to take certain decisions at some point.”
Although ranked ninth in proven gas reserve with an estimated 192tcf, Nigeria, however is ranked the 28th gas producer in the world.
This is in contrast to Algeria which is ranked as 10th on the proven gas reserve list, but still retains the 10th biggest gas producer position in the world, accounting for 2.3 per cent of total world gas production.
Olorunsola, thus emphasised the urgent need for Nigeria to pass the PIBs, adding that the country was lagging seriously behind in her oil industry reforms and improvements, with bid rounds last conducted in 2007.
He added that several other issues such as inadequate gas to power, bloated petrol subsidy, poor oil revenue management, erratic sector funding, ease of doing business, metering, and network infrastructure among others could quickly be resolved with the PIB passed and assented into law.
The omnibus PIB has however been split into the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) – presently awaiting presidential assent; Petroleum Host and Impacted Community Bill (PHICB); Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB); and Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB) which are still undergoing legislative process and expected to be passed before December 25, 2018, according to Olorunsola.