From Uche Usim, Abuja and Adewale Sanyaolu
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday, approved a new National Gas Policy in a bid to unlock the potential of the 187 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves in the country amidst fresh demands from the newly approved policy.
Oil and gas stakeholders who spoke to Daily Sun in separate interviews lauded the resolve of the Federal Government to have a policy for the gas sector but raised objections in some grey areas.
For instance, the President of the Nigeria Gas Association (NGA), Mr. Dada Thomas, said the approval of the national gas policy without the fiscals for the oil and gas sector as a joint sector may not bring about the desired stimulus needed to drive the sector.
Thomas stated that for the gas policy to bring about the desired change needed to attract investment into the sector, the fiscal regime must also be in place in order to bring about a win-win and equitable distribution of opportunities in the sector.
“Though I am yet to critically study the document because we just received the approved policy from government some days ago, it is only when the fiscal aspect of the 7 Big Wins initiative of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources is approved, that we can say we have a complete set of policy that will move the gas sector forward. For now, we are only half way through the journey,” he said.
For his part, President, Nigeria Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA), Mr. Dayo Adeshina, said the policy must ensure a level playing field for all operators to attract the much needed investment.
He argued that all the areas where there are bottlenecks must be quickly removed in order to convince investors that there is sincerity of purpose on the part of government to make them more comfortable to bring in funds for the industry.
The announcement of the approved policy was contained in a statement by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu.
Kachikwu, who made the disclosure in a statement, noted that Nigeria needs major changes in policy to make gas a hub of the nation’s economy. He highlighted the need to have a stream of revenues between petroleum and gas in order to see an improvement in the nation’s economy and leverage opportunities for gains from the oil and gas sector.
The policy document, he said, builds on the policy goals of the Federal Government for the gas sector as presented in the 7 Big Wins initiative developed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the National Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP 2017 – 2020).
The Minister said the policy articulates the vision of the Federal Government, sets goals, strategies and an implementation plan for the introduction of an appropriate institutional, legal, regulatory and commercial framework for the gas sector. It is intended to remove the barriers affecting investment and development of the sector.
According to him, the policy would be reviewed and updated periodically to ensure consistency in government’s policy objectives at all times.
“The gas policy intends to move Nigeria from an oil-based to an oil and gas-based industrial economy, which will be driven by the core principles that separate the respective roles and responsibilities of government and the private sector.
“It will also establish a single independent petroleum regulatory authority, implement full legal separation of the upstream from the midstream, implement full legal separation of gas infrastructure ownership and operations from gas trading, realise more of the LNG international downstream value and pursue a project-based, rather than a centrally-planned domestic gas development approach,’’ he said.