From Okwe Obi, Abuja

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, yesterday, claimed that the reasons investors left the country was because of the delayed passage of the Petroleum Industrial Act (PIA).

Lokpobiri, who spoke in Abuja, at the 2024 oil and gas sector retreat, entitled: Building Synergy for Enhanced Development in the Oil and Gas Sector’, expressed hope that with the stabilisation of the sector those investors would return.

He, also, promised to remove bottlenecks hindering the licencing of modular refineries.

“The reason investors left this country is because of the delayed PIA passage. It took longer than necessary for the PIA to be passed. Every country or investor wants to invest in a stable environment.

“It took longer than 8 years for the PIA to be passed. It was finally passed in 2021. All the investors that have flown out of the country will come back into Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, hinted on the need for the expansion of the nation’s gas infrastructure network, stating that was imperative for the country to enhance access to gas markets

According to Ekperikpe, Nigeria is endowed with over 208Tcf in proven gas reserves and should not be grappling with energy poverty.

He said: “It is imperative for us collectively to confront these challenges head-on. In alignment with the overarching goal of fostering high performance and accountability within the government, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) has issued the Presidential Priorities and Ministerial Deliverables for 2023 – 2027.

“This initiative seeks to establish a robust performance-tracking mechanism for the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the pertinent agencies under his purview.

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“By expanding our gas infrastructure network, we can enhance access to gas markets, stimulate investment in upstream exploration and production activities, and create new opportunities for economic growth and diversification.

“This entails not only increasing domestic gas production but also promoting the adoption of gas as a cleaner alternative for power generation, industrial processes, transportation, and household use. Initiatives such as the “Decade of Gas Initiative” are instrumental in driving gas utilization across various sectors through targeted interventions, infrastructure development, and policy incentives.”

He explained that one of the key elements in the nation’s transition towards a more sustainable energy future lies in the utilisation of natural gas.

He added that gas emerge as a vital fuel transition that holds the potential to bridge the gap between traditional fossil fuels and renewable sources of energy.

“In our pursuit of a low-carbon economy, gas often referred to as the ‘cleanest’ fossil fuel—offers a number of noteworthy benefits.

“Its burning emits a great deal less greenhouse gas than that of coal and oil, which makes it a desirable choice for lowering carbon emissions and slowing down global warming.

“Furthermore, gas-fired power plants are incredibly adaptable and can be quickly ramped up or down to account for variations in the production of renewable energy, offering a dependable backup for intermittent sources like solar and wind power.

“First and foremost, we must prioritize infrastructure development to support the exploration, production, processing, and distribution of gas.

“This includes investments in gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, and gas processing plants to ensure efficient transportation and monetization of our gas resources,” he said.

The explained that the Executive order will shorten the procedure for getting approval for contracts to which companies in the petroleum sector and companies controlled by the Federal government are parties; raise the contract approval thresholds in Production Sharing Contracts (PSA) or Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) to not less than $10,000,000 to account for the rate of inflation.