In its commitment to boost gas processing in Nigeria, the federal government yesterday said it had put machinery in place to construct the first and largest multi-billion dollar gas industrial park in Africa.
Making this disclosure at the opening of a three-day National Conference and Exhibition on Gas Resources, organised by the Senate Committee on Gas in Abuja, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, said the park would be sited in Delta State.
Alison-Madueke, who was represented at the occasion by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, added that the proposed park would consist of other industries which would produce items such as fertilizers, petrochemical, methanol, and other related products.
“As part of our infrastructure blueprint, we have entrenched the concept of gas processing facilities, with a view to extracting the various constituents of natural gas such as the Liquefied Petroleum Gas and ethanol, among others. These will help grow LPG availability for domestic use, whilst the ethane will help fuel the growth of petrochemical industries and the residue gas will then be used as feedstock for fertilizer, methanol and so on,” she said.
According to her, successive administrations in the country had failed to explore gas production and instead concentrated greater effort on crude oil in Nigeria, noting that gas had been treated as a nuisance by-product of oil production.
“This mindset governed how the gas sector was handled initially, hence, pricing of gas was deliberately low because it was aimed at disposing an unwanted product,” she added.
Allison-Madueke, explained further that the perceived low value for gas impeded the development of infrastructure around the product adding that the dominant legislative framework for the industry was essentially based on crude oil production and not gas. She also said in compliance with global best practices, the federal government had planned to ensure that gas exploration becomes the hub of the country’s economic activities as it is the case in other countries.”
“Gas is fast evolving as the preferred fuel in view of its relatively more impressive environmental credentials and lower cost of supply than alternative liquid fuel. Natural gas has the capacity to transform an economy. We have seen successful examples all over the world. Qatar, which has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world, has its growth anchored on natural gas. Also, Trinidad and Tobago saw transformational changes in its GDP and employment rate as it exploited its modest natural gas resources,” she noted.
Further, she disclosed that Saudi Arabia, besides being the world’s largest oil producer, had positioned itself as the world’s hub for petrochemicals while Russia had exploited its enormous gas resources to transform its economy as she argued that the federal government in the last three years, had begun “the most aggressive implementation of a nationwide gas infrastructure blueprint to connect the product with all key supply sources and markets across the country.”
She added: “Today, we have completed and inaugurated almost 500 kilometres of new gas pipelines and equally developed a network code which governs the flow of gas across the nation’s pipeline network and provides rules for open access among others. I believe these interventions have combined to begin to boost investors’ confidence in Natural Gas, in Nigeria.”
In his address, Senate President David Mark, who was represented by Senate’s Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Abu Ibrahim, emphasised the need to evolve fresh strategies to generate wealth and employment through the development of gas sector as he assured stakeholders in the sector that the National Assembly would ensure the passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with a view to guaranteeing gas revolution that would boost living standard for all Nigerians.