Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources
…Rising global population in Asia and Africa will significantly push energy demand upward
…About 600 million people have no access to electricity, while 900 million have no access to clean cooking fuel
Speaking at the opening ceremony of 45th Nigeria Annual International Conference & Exhibition (NAICE), organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Nigeria Council, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva said the theme of the event: “Global Transition to Renewable and Sustainable Energy and the Future of Oil and Gas in Africa is apt, coming at a time when the world is witnessing a turnaround in the global energy landscape and clamouring for transition to greener energy sources to reduce carbon emission.
The Minister made it known that it is generally acknowledged that transition to low carbon energy sources will make the world a better living place with a cleaner climate.
However, energy transition is better viewed as providing clean energy, and not as abandoning some energy sources.
While current forecast indicates that the global cost of renewable energy is declining steadily, the reliability and sustainability of these renewable energy supplies have been challenged by the recent energy crisis in Europe and the Americas, which has re-awakened new interest in fossil fuel supplies. “We have seen coal plants being fired up in several European Countries recently, and a renewed interest in natural gas supply from Africa. There are also reports of increased oil and gas drilling operations in the USA with spontaneous permits being granted recently.”
Anticipated economic growth and rising global population, especially in Asia and Africa, will significantly push energy demand upward to a level that renewable energy sources only cannot meet by 2050. All these imply that the global energy mix will remain with us, amidst greater dominance by hydrocarbon energy sources, at least in the foreseeable future. It also indicates that energy transition will remain a gradual process, as against a rapid and radical shift as some have presented it.
It is therefore necessary that more effort should be put on the use of available technologies, like the carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), to make fossil fuels cleaner. This will encourage a win-win situation in terms of CO2 emission reduction and meeting global energy demand. Many countries have already come to the realisation that the adoption and deployment of CCUS technologies in large scale will play a critical role in supporting energy transitions globally. Hence, investment into the CCUS technologies is a very appropriate step at this stage of addressing climate change concerns.
Sylva said for Africa, adaptive strategies for the energy transition should be adopted across the continent. This means that the different socio-economic, political and developmental peculiarities of individual nations should be taken into account in their transition plans.
Africa is still bedeviled with chronic energy poverty in this modern age, with about 600 million having no access to electricity, and about 900 million having no access to clean cooking fuel. This is unjustifiable, to say the least.
According to the Minister, all available energy sources will be required to end the high level of energy poverty in Africa and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal of providing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Africa’s approach towards the climate-change-net-zero-emission should be to optimize the use of our abundant gas resource as a transition fuel option. Africa’s energy poverty would have to be addressed by responsibly developing and utilizing Africa’s abundant natural resource – Fossil fuels, from where the renewable energy would be funded amidst a gradual energy transition.
Nigeria, as the oil and gas industry leader in Africa, is committed to pursuing the energy transition to promote economic growth, and is gradually investing in renewable energies, primarily solar, to reduce carbon emissions, whilst continuing to exploit hydrocarbon resources, especially natural gas – recognized as the energy transition fuel for Nigeria.
The country has the most extensive gas resource in Africa with proven gas reserves of over 200 trillion cubic feet. It is envisaged that with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 in full implementation across the broad spectrum of the oil and gas industry, Nigeria is well positioned for a reformed oil and gas industry that could sustain the local demand for natural gas and a high export income.
On a relevant note, the campaign for reduced funding of fossil fuels explorations has led to a gale of divestment by the international oil companies in Nigeria. I strongly believe that this is an opportunity for oil and gas exploration in the country because Nigeria’s independent producers have developed capacity to fill-in the gap. It must however be admitted that the risk of limited international financing of oil and gas projects could jeopardize Africa’s energy transition and roadmap to attaining net-zero.
Hence, Africa will have to look inward and harness its resources, while accelerating technology development, to face the global energy transition onslaught. We need to develop cross-border infrastructure and expand regional energy market to guarantee long-term energy security.
Sylva believed that Africa has a key role to play in securing a greener world where clean natural gas is used to power our economies sustainably.
“I have no doubt that the future of Africa’s oil and gas industry is still bright, despite the global energy transition uptake. You are central to making this a reality. Don’t fail us.”