By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja today to participate in the 5th Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
According to a statement made available to newsmen by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, apart from the Nigerian leader, the one-day meeting will be attended by leaders of major gas producing nations of the world namely, Algeria, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Bolivia, Iran, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Norway, whose countries account for 70 per cent and 80 per cent of global gas reserves and production respectively.
The idea of the GECF was first mooted in 2001 when the First Ministerial Meeting held in Tehran, Iran, while the First GECF otherwise called Gas Summit, took place in Doha, Qatar in 2011 with Nigeria represented at the highest level.
Indeed, President Buhari had attended the Third Gas Summit in Tehran in November 2015. This Fifth Gas Summit in Malabo is the first time the biennial meeting will be hosted in Africa.
Recall that on November 19, 2019, President Buhari had received Mr Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima, the Special Envoy of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who brought a special invitation to the Nigerian leader to attend the 5th Gas Summit as well as thanking Nigeria for her support towards the hosting.
During that visit, the President had noted that, “Nigeria is more of a gas producing rather than oil producing country. That fact had long been established. If we had followed our plans laid out in the 1970s for the gas sector, we should have had 12 trains by early 1980s, instead of being on just six trains,” of exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
Nigeria, being home to the largest proven natural gas reserves in Africa – over 202 trillion cubic feet (TCF) – and the ninth largest in the world, the Malabo Summit provides a veritable platform for President Buhari to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the broad objectives of the GECF which among others, seek to “support the sovereign rights of Member Countries over their natural gas resources and their ability to independently plan and manage the sustainable, efficient and environmentally-conscious development, use and conservation of natural gas resources for the benefit of their people.”
The Nigerian delegation will also use the opportunity to discuss current trends in the global gas market, potential policies for the energy sector and opportunities for collaboration.
At the end of the 5th Gas Summit, the Malabo Declaration is expected to be adopted.
Buhari will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari.
After the Summit, the President will head for Daura, Katsina State on a five-day official visit.