By Etuka Sunday
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva said Nigeria has come to terms with application of domestic gas as a platform to drive a truly sustainable in-country economic diversification.
Chief Sylva spoke while delivering his keynote address on the occasion of the 13th Annual International Conference of the Nigerian Association of Energy Economics (NAEE) held at the PTDF Conference Centre in Abuja, Thursday.
He said, COVID-19 and the progressive decline in the crude oil prices in 2020 has made it imperative for Nigeria to aggressively pursue the diversification of the economy.
The minister also said, there was need to diversify the country’s portfolio to non-oil businesses so as to cushion the effect of the future crash in crude oil prices and position the oil and gas industry for growth in the post COVID-19 world.
“Let me assure you that we have come to terms with application of domestic gas as a platform to drive a truly sustainable in- country economic diversification,” he said.
Sylva said, there was clear evidence that the globlal economy would eventually recover, however, it’s unlikely that it would return to normal soon, so there was need to transform the country’s national oil company into a diversified energy holding industry.
“The oil and gas industry is likely to be faced with prolong substantial reduced demand, mainly due to the growing pressures to use greener energy sources. In addition, the industry is grappling with over supply issues, whether due to burgeoning oil volumes from U.S Shale or the struggle for market share between producers.
“Our strategy to strengthen the oil and gas industry in the Post-COVID-19 world is to transform our national oil company into a diversified energy holding industry to enable us respond swiftly to the twin challenges of future crash in crude oil prices and decarbonisation by moving rapidly, becoming an energy holding company with more diverse interests,” he said.
He said, the theme for the conference, “Energy and Petroleum in a Post-COVID-19 World: What should Nigeria do?” was apt, “as the global lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the transforming industry into a state of major crisis. Thus, the critical assessment of our perspective on Nigeria’s preparedness for energy transition dynamics in this trying period cannot be overemphasised.”
He urged NAEE and participants at the conference to come up with feasible innovative ideas for business sustainability and growth in the post covid-19 world.
Earlier, in her welcome address, the President, NAEE, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe said, the global oil demand has drastically reduced by 2.5million barrels per day and would continue to be threatened by reduced economic activity in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic which is currently underway, consequently, Nigeria stands at a critical moment.
She said, as Petroleum dependent country which has remained bedevilled by the resours curse, unable to even make any lasting changes to a legal and institutional structure that all agree is detrimental to the sustainable development of its citizens.
She said, without proper planning, it could end up being one of the most negatively impacted nations of the world, unable to effectively navigate the post-COVID-19 world.
The NAEE President said that the Nigerian petroleum industry has so far exhibited a worrying incapacity to change and adapt as evidenced by about twenty years of a Petroleum reform that has refused to even take the first step of enacting badly needed legislation.
She however, expressed hope that the conference would ignite meaningful discussions and lead to definite actions by all who have roles to play- policymakers and critical stakeholders to promote the required changes to ensure the emergence of a strengthened Nigeria post-COVID-19.