The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday said the country was looking beyond the Niger Delta in its effort to find alternative source for gas supply.
Mr Kachikwu disclosed this at a breakout session at the ongoing Nigerian Gas Association 11th International Conference and Exhibition in Abuja.
The minister was represented by his technical adviser, upstream and gas, Gbite Adeniji.
He said that the federal government was serious about taking gas to the Northern region of the country, through the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano( AKK) gas pipeline project, so as to address the huge economic challenges witnessed in the region.
The minister stated 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).
“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.”
Mr Kachikwu listed the strategic importance of the AKK pipeline project.
He noted that the key was to ensure that the project was delivered in a manner that gives confidence to the upstream that there was viable anchor project to keep it going.
According to him, until the AKK pipeline comes on stream, the country must look at the possibility of alternative gas supplies into the Northern region and into other stranded gas markets in the country.
“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,” he said.