Undeniably, the oil and gas industry holds the key, at least in the short term, to Nigeria’s prosperity. The imperative to get Nigeria’s natural, God-given resources out of the ground, has never been more urgent, given the global dynamics that constantly shape the sector.

Today, the oil and gas sector contributes about 85 percent of Nigeria’s foreign earnings, after it rebounded in 2023 Q4, attributable to the significant improvement in the average domestic crude oil production.

President Bola Tinubu appeared to have taken cognizance of the importance of oil and gas to the Nigerian economy early in his administration when his first diplomatic shuttles took him to oil-producing nations like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar in search of the much-needed investments.

It also underscores why in his eight-point Renewed Hope Agenda, “Unlocking Energy and Natural Resources” came in the number four position, highlighting the importance that he attaches to the sector.

From the downstream to the midstream and the very critical upstream of the oil and gas industry, the president is making steady strides, taking one decision at a time to ensure the industry is revamped.

Daily oil production, which at some point before the current administration fell to as low as one million bpd has risen to nearly 1.7 million bpd, plus condensate, which although outside the computation of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has the same value as crude oil.

Penultimate week, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri announced that about $16.6 billion in investment commitments had been obtained in the past year and this could overshoot $20 billion before the end of this year.

Of this amount, $5 billion and $10 billion respectively, is expected to go into deepwater offshore assets, while there is another $1.6 billion investment commitment in oil and gas asset acquisition.

One major obstacle to raising oil production in the country is the disputes among operators or producers which constantly hobble oil production and tie down investments that should ordinarily be getting constant returns for the country.

These internal feuds in joint venture contracts on critical production fields are now being resolved while local communities with critical assets running through them have now been engaged to protect them, to reduce oil theft across the country.

To further accelerate the Ease of Doing Business, Tinubu recently signed an Executive Order on Oil and Gas Reforms (2024), aimed at removing the bottlenecks constraining investments as well as growing investors’ confidence in the sector.

The amendment of primary legislation to introduce fiscal incentives for oil & gas projects is also meant to reduce contracting costs and timelines and promote cost efficiency in local content requirements, recognizing the urgency to accelerate investments.

Tinubu directed the introduction of fiscal incentives for non-associated gas, midstream, and deepwater developments, streamlining of the contracting process to compress the contracting cycle to six months as well as the application of the local content requirements without hindering investments or the cost competitiveness.

In addition, for the first time since Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) became a national buzzword, there is now an administration that is taking the program very seriously. With over 209 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) of gas, Nigeria has the largest gas reserves in Africa. Unfortunately, before now, the massive investment needed to get the resources out of the ground had not been forthcoming.

Under the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas  (Pi-CNG), a component of the palliative intervention of the Tinubu administration, the president has directed that Nigerians be provided succor due to the hardships that resulted from the fuel subsidy removal. The advantage of the policy is that it is aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, thereby enhancing energy independence and contributing to a more secure energy future.

Also, CNG is said to be four times cheaper than diesel for transportation. This initiative will drop the cost of carrying goods and reduce the cost of production significantly. Already, the Tinubu government has earmarked N100 billion as the take-off funding for the critical project.

In line with this commitment to ensure energy security, drive utility, and cut high fuel costs, Tinubu has directed the mandatory procurement of compressed-natural-gas-powered vehicles by all government ministries, departments, and agencies.

The president’s directive is also in furtherance of Nigeria’s effort to transition to cleaner energy as CNG-enabled vehicles have been adjudged to produce lower emissions, even as they present a more affordable alternative for Nigerian energy consumers.

Furthermore, although delayed, the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery is now completed and refining is expected to start in weeks, while work is continuing at the Warri, Kaduna as well as the second tranche of the Port Harcourt refineries.

With all the refineries expected to come online by December, Nigeria will soon become a net exporter of petroleum products to West African markets as well as to Europe.

In addition, the construction of the Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kano Gas Pipeline, a 614-kilometre facility being developed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) is being accelerated.

The $2.8 billion project represents phase one of the 1,300km-long Trans-Nigerian Gas Pipeline (TNGP) project being developed as part of Nigeria’s master plan to utilize its surplus gas resources.

The current administration has, therefore, never hidden its abiding aspiration to unlock Nigeria’s energy and natural resources, especially gas. And it is doing exactly that.

To highlight this point, the president recently inaugurated three milestone projects: The expanded AHL Gas Processing Plant; the ANOH Gas Processing Plant, and the 23.3km ANOH to Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) Custody Transfer Metering Station Gas Pipeline.

During the event, Tinubu assured citizens that his administration was stepping up its coordination of other landmark projects and initiatives that will ensure the earliest realization of gas-fuelled prosperity in the country.

The president noted that the projects were fully in line with the ‘Decade of Gas’ Initiative and his government’s vision to grow value from the nation’s abundant gas assets while concurrently eliminating gas flaring and accelerating industrialization.

“This event is highly significant to our country as it demonstrates the administration’s concerted efforts to accelerate the development of critical gas infrastructure geared at significantly enhancing the supply of energy to boost industrial growth and create employment opportunities.

“It is pleasing that when these projects become fully operational, approximately 500MMscf of gas in aggregate will be supplied to the domestic market from these two gas processing plants, which represents over 25 percent incremental growth in gas supply,” he added.

In all, what has become clear since the coming of the Tinubu administration, is that there has been renewed vigour in attempts to unlock Nigeria’s natural resources.

In the last two months, as the government continues to settle feuding JV partners, oil production has received a boost with the NNPC and partner in Oil Mining Licence (OML) 85, First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company Limited (First E&P), announcing the commencement of export from the facility.

Output from the asset also known as Madu Field, located in shallow waters offshore Bayelsa State and operated by First E&P is expected to be at an average of 20,000 barrels per day or 7.3 million barrels annually.

Also, NNPC’s exploration arm has begun production at Oil Mining Lease (OML) 13 in the Niger Delta region with a projected output of 40,000 barrels per day. These steady strides, which are likely to speed up soon, no doubt, will put the Nigerian oil and gas industry in its pride of place among producers of the commodity globally.

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