New discoveries raise Nigeria's gas reserves

Sep 04, 2002 02:00 AM

Fresh discoveries in Nigeria in the last two years have raised the country's gas reserves by 18.5 tcf, according to statistics released by the NNPC at the on going 17th World Petroleum Congress (WPC), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Federal Government has subsequently, promised mouth watering incentives to investors that engaged in projects that would assist in monetising the country's huge gas resources. Nigeria's current gas reserves is put at 170 tcf. The new addition came from deep offshore fields namely Bosi, located in Oil Prospecting License (OPL), with five tcf, Shell's Bonga West and South West fields, 1.0 tcf and Bonga oil field which added 7 bn cf of gas.

New gas reserves also came from the Doro/Nnwa deep offshore field with 8.4 tcf, Ngolo field with 2.4 tcf and Bolia/Chota field which added 1.0 tcf of gas. Vice President Atiku Abubakar speaking at a dinner in honour of Nigerian delegates to the WPC said that with this proven gas reserves and probable reserves of 250 tcf, Nigeria was in many respect a gas province with associated oil reserves.
Atiku, whose address was read by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Duben Onyia, said that the Federal Government was putting in place business environment that would safeguard the investment and technologies needed to develop the gas resources. Indications are that most of Nigeria's future hydrocarbon potential is in natural gas and that most immediate new opportunities for development of the natural gas resources are in the deep offshore and ultra deep offshore," said the vice president.
"In recognition of this, the sector is being re-organised with diminishing state participation in the industry and attracting more private investment," he added.

Nigeria, with reserves of 32 bn barrels (10th largest in the world) is globally noted as an oil producing nation. However, the country's current gas reserves placed it as the 7th largest in the world.
About 40 % gas produced in the country is presently flared due to the underdevelopment of the domestic market. The country only began to earn substantial income from gas export in 2000, through the Bonny LNG plant.
Atiku said that two main gas related projects, namely the WAGP project and the West African Power Pool project, were being developed with the potential to "revolutionise the oil and gas industry in the sub-region." The vice president said Nigeria remained a secured source of gas supply to meet the growing global demand for the commodity, adding that after only 40 years of exploration and production activities, the country had only scratched the surface of her oil and gas deposits.

Atiku also said that 71 companies are pre-qualified to participate in the second phase bidding for the development of Nigeria's marginal oil fields. Atiku said that all the companies though indigenous had foreign partners.
He said that the decision to open the fields was aimed at liberalising the upstream sectors, so that indigenous entrepreneurs could become effective participants. He said that 24 stifled marginal fields had been identified and that the 71 companies that would participate in the second phase bidding were chosen from the 140 that tendered. Atiku, who did not list the companies, said that the second phase bidding "will be concluded in due course".
The vice-president said that Nigeria offered excellent opportunities for investors who were ready to use the human, financial and technical skills of the 71 pre-qualified companies in the safe and efficient development of the country's hydrocarbon resources.
The Federal Government, he added, remained committed to its earlier set goals of: Increasing the crude oil reserve of the country; increasing production capacity; monetising gas resources and match gas revenue with oil revenue; increasing private sector participation in all aspects of the oil industry; and instituting good governance based on the tenets and principles of democracy that guarantees equitable returns to all investors.

Also speaking on the Federal Government's bid to monetise the country's gas reserves, the Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy, Dr Rilwanu Lukman, said that talks had reached advanced stage on the proposed Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline project. Nigeria is holding talks with Algeria on the project, which entails the distribution of Nigeria's gas through pipeline en route Algeria to Europe.
Lukman, who put the cost of the project at about $ 6 bn, said that a committee had been set up and is presently conducting feasibility study on the project, adding that the committee would also seek investors to fund the project. He said that investors were being sought for the project because of its enormous cost, which could not be borne by the participating countries alone.
"The pipeline will pass through Niger and Algeria to Europe," he said, adding that it would present a win-win situation for both Nigeria, which will derive enormous economic gains and European buyers which will get a more diverse source of supply. Lukman, who doubles as the President of the OPEC, said that the organisation had equally executed plans to boost gas utilisation through collective partnership with consumers.

Lukman said that gas flaring among OPEC member countries, which stood at 57 % in 1977, dropped to 14 % by 1990 and was now below 8 %. The OPEC president said in order to boost gas utilisation as well as ensure sustainable development, oil producing countries should tackle poverty afflicting a greater number of the world population. This, he added, would come from employment generating projects, which would in turn, help in boosting the economies of the countries.
Lukman, however, said the Federal Government will next month invite bids for allocation of 10 blocks in Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone (JDZ). In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Lukman said government would soon approve the allocation of the blocks aimed at adding to the nation's reserves and the creation of positive multiplier effect on the economy.
Lukman, who is also chairman, joint ministerial council of the JDZ, said guidelines for the exercise had already been worked out. He explained that the guidelines would be announced alongside the bidding round after a joint ministerial meeting in Sao Tome.

The presidential aide said in line with present administration's commitment to openness and transparency in the conduct of its affairs, the selection of the beneficiaries would be through an open and competitive bidding. "The prospects of the Nigeria oil and gas industry for which government was laying a good foundation, depend largely on the willingness to make additional investment by the current operators and the number of investor attracted by the existing fiscal regime," he said.
Commenting on the gas liquid joint venture between NNPC, Chevron and Sasol of South Africa, Lukman said construction work would commence early next year. He said feasibility study on the project conducted throughout this year, revealed that it was both profitable and viable and would come on stream in 2005.

Source: This Day/All Africa Global Media
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