… Calls for Energy Integration across West Africa
…As US Pledges to Help Africa Become Energy-Independent
By Shola Akingboye
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, has stated that more than 41billion barrels of crude oil and 319trillion cubic feet of gas are yet to be discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Baru made this disclosure during a special session on Africa, entitled: “Foundations for New Investment”, at the ongoing 19th CERAWeek Conference taking place in Houston, United States Wednesday.
The NNPC GMD stated that from available information, the African global crude oil and gas outlook remained positive and on the upward trajectory, saying the West Africa as the Sub-Region held the ace in terms of offshore Deep Water exploration hotspots.
He stated that a prolific 1.0Billion barrel of crude oil find was recently made at the Owowo field, offshore Nigeria.
He called on foreign investors to explore the Nigerian Ultra-Deep terrain which he described as largely untested.
Dr. Baru told his audience that in Nigeria NNPC was currently drilling Kolmani River-II Well in the Benue Trough – one of Nigeria’s several frontier inland Basins with about 400 Bcf of gas expected to be encountered.
The occasion also provided an opportunity for the NNPC GMD to make a case for the domestication of oil and gas technologies within the African continent.
He said: “It is my belief that domesticating these cutting-edge technologies will develop the capacity of our people, improve our economies and emplace our national oil and gas companies on the path of sustainable growth and development.”
According to the GMD, African countries must react positively to the new reality by deploying new policies and stabilize their business environment to attract meaningful investments.
He said critical to achieving that for Nigeria was the passage of the four components of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which is expected to usher in a new legislation that will not only enhance the investment climate in the country, but also change the fortunes of the nation’s oil and gas business for the better.
Baru informed delegates at the conference that the NNPC was opening up its business environment to ensure transparency and accountability in its dealing with all stakeholders.
He also lauded the Federal Government for its peace initiatives in the Niger Delta communities which he said had seen the country hitting very high oil and gas production figures in recent years.
Ministers and high level energy executives from Mali, Somalia, Namibia and Uganda were among panelists at the Special Session.
Organised by IHS Markit, CERAWeek is a global platform on energy trends and public policy where over 4,000 oil and gas experts convene annually to debate the future of oil, natural gas, renewable energy, power and new technologies.
In the same vein, Dr. Maikanti Baru, also calls for more integration among countries within the West African sub-region towards providing lasting solutions to the region’s numerous energy challenges.
Dr. Baru made the call at the Wednesday session during a meeting with the United States Energy Secretary, Rick Perry and some African petroleum ministers.
In separate release in Abuja, the NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said Dr. Baru revealed that energy integration across the sub-region was necessary as it would drastically reduce unemployment and restiveness as well as improve the economies of the affected countries.
“Nigeria as a regional leader has already encouraged regional integration by first putting up the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) to ensure gas is available to West Africa. We are also doing the Trans Sahara Gas Pipeline (TSGP), even as we are intent on extending the WAGP to Morocco,” Baru told the US Energy Secretary at the occasion.
He said the intent was to come up with a West African Power Pool that would put up power plants and other gas-based industries along those areas within the respective countries.
The GMD said Nigeria’s crude oil production had seen tremendous improvement in recent years, due to Federal Government’s laudable efforts in ensuring security in the Niger Delta region.
He said Nigeria and US had been very good partners with about $35bn worth of trade between the two countries.
Earlier in his remarks, the United States Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, expressed his country’s commitment towards helping Africa achieve energy independence for the benefit of their people.
“For our part we will support progress by engaging economically as well as championing open markets in societies. We endorse the modernization of critical oil and gas infrastructure which leads to better security and diversification of energy supplies and exports,” he noted.
Describing innovation as the surest path to energy security, Perry added that once countries innovate, they are greeted with greater economic growth, opportunities and national security.
“We support efforts to improve the regional interconnectivity. We also see energy access as critical to increasing prosperity and combating the cycle of poverty,” he added.
He said as the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, the US was more than well-positioned to not only share its resources, but also its technology and know-how.
He said his country would work towards transforming the Africa’s domestic energy systems so that it would provide power, create jobs, foster development, open up new opportunities and improve almost every facet of human existence on the continent.
“The US is very eager to share its energy resources and expertise with the African continent. As we go forward, we want to be a desired partner in ensuring that the global energy market are supplied with the diversity of energy sources,” he stated.
Other Ministers and high level energy executives from African countries such as Ghana, Mali, South Sudan, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone participated in the meeting.