Mr Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, has called on the U.S, Government to provide funding support for Nigeria to develop its natural gas resources.
According to Sylva, this is to enable the sector serve as alternative source of energy for Europe.
The call by Sylva is coming on the heels of the Russian/Ukraine crisis, which is threatening the disruption of gas supplies from Russia to the entire European continent.
The minister spoke at a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm on the side-line of the ongoing CERAweek 2022, in Houston, Texas.
Sylva, in a statement on Thursday by his Senior Adviser (Media and Communications), Horatius Egua, said the collaboration between the U.S. and Nigeria in this area would be of immense benefits to both countries as well as the entire globe.
According to Sylva, it is in the interests of the global community that there is alternative supply of gas to Europe.
He said the challenge for Nigeria to achieve this feat had been lack of infrastructure and funding to develop the sector, adding that the U.S could provide that funding.
The minister told Granholm that Nigeria had abundance of natural gas resources that could meet European gas demands, saying that the problem had been access to funding.
He said as part of efforts to boost gas supplies across the African continent, Nigeria had embarked on the construction of a 600 kilometres of the Ajaokuta- Kaduna- Kano (AKK) gas pipeline.
This, he said was designed to take gas to Europe via North Africa and therefore, called on the U.S. to provide the needed funding for infrastructure for the exploitation of the huge natural gas in Nigeria.
“We have access to gas but access to funding has been the problem.
“Our desire is to be able to take gas from Nigeria through Algeria to Europe. We have already kick started the AKK gas pipeline project and if we have the required funding we can complete that project in two years,’’ the minister said.
According to him, Nigeria has more than 206 tcl of natural gas reserve and unproven reserve of 600 tcl and with targeted exploitation of natural gas in Nigeria, up to 600 tcl can be produced.
The minister said the crisis between Russia and Ukraine was a wakeup call to have alternative sources of gas to Europe, saying that situations like this called for alternative means.
Speaking on global energy transition, Sylva said for the energy transition programme to be meaningful, the peculiar problems of Africa must be factored into the entire energy transition arrangement.
The minister, an advocate of an African solution to the energy transition programme said “we have to be given some special considerations.
“I am excited that the world has started listening to us. In as much as we want to be part of the new economy, we cannot move at the same pace.
“We still have people without clean cooking fuels, so we want to achieve our energy base load through a multi prong approach. The reality check is that we cannot move at the same pace. There is gap between expectations,” he said.
He called on the U.S. government to support Nigeria and other African countries in the areas of funding and technology as it was through such collaborations that the energy transition programme could be fast-tracked.
Sylva, however, cautioned that such funding and technological supports must be made accessible to interested countries.
“We have to work out a structured way to access the funding. We must create that understanding to make the loans accessible. The issue of sovereign guarantee must be removed so that interested countries can easily access the funding,’’ the minister said.
Citing the case of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), Sylva said since the programme came into force so many years ago, no African country had been able to “successfully key into the project for maximum benefits’’.
He said it had not been easy for Africa to access AGOA, adding that Nigeria was interested in the type of funding it would be able to access.
In her remarks, Granholm expressed the readiness of the U.S. to cooperate with Nigeria to develop her renewable energy sector, noting that her government was not against the development of gas or other sources of energy.
She said the U.S. government would be willing to support Nigeria in developing her renewable energy sources and therefore, called for a coordinated strategy to pin down specific areas of focus where funding and other supports would be required.
“Investors are interested in funding renewable energy in Nigeria but they are interested in knowing possible areas of focus. We have to work out a structured way to access the fund,” Granholm said.
In an earlier meeting with the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Harry Karman, Sylva expressed Nigeria’s willingness to develop the different sources of renewable energy such as wind, solar and hydrogen.
He spoke also about the need to streamline targeted financing, adding that there must be a framework of accessing the funding.
Karman in his remarks assured the minister of the U.S government’s readiness to support Nigeria in finding sustainable energy sources for the millions of Nigerians without access to power.
“The U.S will be more than happy to help. It is important that we look at countries and what energy mix that will be good for them.
“It has to be a mix for Nigeria and we have to do a study to determine the renewable energy source that will be good for the country,” he said.