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10
March
2022

FG seeks US funding to develop natural gas for Europe

Minister of State (Petroleum Resources) Timipre Sylva has called on the United States Government to provide funding to develop the country’s natural gas resources to serve as an alternative source of energy for Europe.

The call by Sylva is coming on the heels of the Russian war with Ukraine, which threatens the disruption of gas supplies from Russia to the entire European continent.

Speaking at a meeting with the US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on the side-line of the ongoing Ceraweek, in Houston Texas, on Wednesday, Sylva said the collaboration between the US 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 an alternative supply of gas to Europe. The challenge for us to achieve this feat has been lack of infrastructure and we need funding to develop infrastructure for our gas and we believe that the US can provide that funding.’

He told Granholm that Nigeria has an abundance of natural gas resources that can meet European gas demands, noting that the problem has been access to funding.

He said as part of efforts to boost gas supplies across the African continent, Nigeria has embarked upon the construction of a 600 kilometre of the Ajaokuta- Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline designed to take gas to Europe via North Africa and therefore called on the US 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 kickstarted the AKK gas pipeline project and if we have the required funding we can complete that project in two years,’ the minister said adding that Nigeria has ‘over 206 tcl of natural gas reserve and unproven reserve of 600 tcl. We believe that if we target the exploitation of natural gas in Nigeria, we will be able to get up to 600 tcl. We need to have the needed funding to develop our gas and the US can provide us with this funding.’

The minister said the crisis between Russia and Ukraine was a wake-up call to have alternative sources of gas to Europe stressing that in “situations like this, it is always good to have alternatives. It is time to say ‘let’s look forward’.

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. I was particularly happy that John Kerry echoed our position when he spoke at a panel session. Inasmuch as we want to be part of the new economy, we can not move at the same pace. We still have people without clean cooking fuels, so we want to achieve our energy baseload through a multi-prong approach. The reality check is that we can not move at the same pace. There is a gap between expectations.’

He called on the US to support Nigeria and other African countries in the areas of funding and technology stressing that it is through such collaborations that the energy transition programme can be ‘fast-tracked’.

Sylva however cautioned that such funding and technological support 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 further stated.

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 has been able to “successfully key into the project for maximum benefits.

He said: ‘It has not been easy for Africa to access AGOA. so the type of funding we are looking at is the one that Nigeria will be able to access.’

In her remarks, Granholm expressed the readiness of the US 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 US 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 support 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 US Assistant Secretary of State Harry Karman, Sylva expressed Nigeria’s willingness to develop different sources of renewable energy such as wind, solar and hydrogen.

He also spoke 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 US government’s readiness to support Nigeria in finding sustainable energy sources for the millions of Nigerians without access to power adding that ‘anywhere we can be of support we will.’

He said the US ‘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.’

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