Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, lamented that the country didn’t have sufficient gas to fire the country’s power plants to generate up to 7,000 megawatts of electricity. This was even as the President of Nigerian Association for Energy Economics, NAEE, Mr. Wumi Iledare, stated that in line with the current realities in the global petroleum industry and the foreign exchange rate, the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, in the country should be about N120 per litre. Osinbajo, who spoke at the NAEE/International Association for Energy Economics Annual International Conference in Abuja, expressed disappointment in the fact that despite Nigeria’s enormous natural gas reserves of over 185 trillion cubic feet, the country was still faced with huge energy supply problems. “In fact, it is an irony that we do not have sufficient gas to fire our power plants up to 7,000MW, yet in energy industry circles, Nigeria is described as more of a gas territory than an oil territory,” Osinbajo, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant (Power and Privatisation), Chiedu Ugbo, said. He said currently, the country had over 12,500MW of installed electricity generating capacity, consisting of gas thermal, and hydropower plants, stating that capacity of about 7,000MW was available to be generated, if the required fuel was available. He, however, disclosed that in spite of the available capacity, power plants in the country, over the last couple of weeks, distributed less than 4,000MW of electricity to consumers across the country. Inadequate investment on gas facilities Osinbajo blamed the development on inadequate investment on gas facilities,gas flaring, inadequate gas infrastructure and vandalism, among others. He said: “We have limited gas molecules to supply to the power plants. This is a result of many years of under-investment in gas gathering and processing for domestic consumption and also many years of gas flaring. Nigeria alone flares about half of the 40 billion cubic meters of associated gas estimated to be flared in Africa annually.
To address the situation, Osinbajo disclosed that the Federal Government was aware that there is no alternative to electric energy for energizing and powering Nigeria’s economic growth and development; hence it is determined to resolve the challenges to achieving sustainable energy supply in the country. “We are working tirelessly towards resolving the gas-to-power challenge, ensuring that the needed investment will be made in gas gathering and processing for domestic consumption, especially for power plants and, at the same time working to ensure sustainability of supply of existing gas volumes,” he noted. PMS should sell at N120 per litre
Also speaking, Iledare stated that he did not see the low oil price as a disaster for Nigeria, stating that it offered the country the opportunity to adopt fiscal responsibility practices and reduce fiscal irresponsibility. He further stated that the low oil price allowed the country to take advantage of the situation to allow prices in the sector to be determined at current international market price, while he recommended a PMS’ price of N120 per litre.
He said the Federal Government had no business regulating the sector. He said managing the petroleum sector had become elusive, adding that regulators should be autonomous and that any regulation put forward should have the backing of the law. He warned that it was foolhardy for the country to perpetually develop oil and gas resources for cash, instead of satisfying the country’s energy needs.