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Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo: Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas)

By Danlami Nasir Isah

Hon. Obongemem Ekperikpe Ekpo is a Nigerian politician and the current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Federal Republic of Nigeria- a mandate given to him by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) on the 21st of August 2023. Before assuming his Ministerial role, Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo distinguished himself through dedicated service first as Chairman, Ika Local Government Area (LGA) in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, and then as a member of the House of Representatives, representing the Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency in the National Assembly from 2007 to 2011.

During his tenure, he was Secretary of the Akwa Ibom Legislative Caucus and the Chairman of the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District Legislators Forum. He also served as Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Industry, while contributing to pivotal committees such as Customs Service, National Security and Intelligence, Power and the Niger Delta Affairs.

He emerged as the APC senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in 2022. Hon. Ekpo holds a B.Sc. in Biology (Ecology) and a Masters degree in Environmental Pollution and Toxicology from the same institution. His notable contributions extend beyond academia into impactful governance; as Chairman of Ika Local Government, he left an indelible mark by catalysing the completion of an abandoned Federal Government Electrification project, thus affiliating the Ika Local Government Area with the National Grid for the first time in history.

Such multifaceted experiences have endowed him with a profound academic grounding in environmental development matters, green energy, energy transition, and a robust practical understanding of industry intricacies. As HMSPR (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo is poised to steer Nigeria’s resolute trajectory towards the development, industrialisation and expansion of gas resources, embodying a steadfast commitment to the nation’s energy evolution.

At the epicentre stands Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo, Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas). In just six months, a whirlwind of transformative initiatives redefined the agenda, placing innovation, sustainability, and global partnership at the heart of a gas-powered future for Nigeria. Ekpo’s leadership of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Gas, has demonstrably prioritized environmental responsibility. The eradication of routine gas flaring through a strategic partnership with Total Energies stands as a landmark achievement. This decisive action not only combats greenhouse gas emissions but also promotes responsible resource utilization, a critical step towards a cleaner future.

Untangling the gas supply knot under his watch, the resolution of gas supply issues for the Geometric Power Plant in Aba, Abia State is a testament to the minister’s focus on tangible results. By ensuring a steady flow of gas, the plant’s commissioning not only improves regional energy security but also fosters industrial growth and socio-economic development; and through regulatory reforms, recognizing the need for a well-oiled gas transportation system.

Rt. Hon. Ekpo spearheaded a revision of the Nigerian Gas Transportation Network Code. This action addresses longstanding concerns and streamlines operations within the DOMGAS network, paving the way for enhanced performance and efficiency. Worth noting in the last six months is the minister’s success in attracting significant investments and bolstering infrastructure as evident in the progress made on multi-billion dollar projects like the OB3 and AKK gas pipelines. These critical initiatives not only stimulate economic activity and job creation but also strengthen the nation’s energy backbone, ensuring efficient gas transportation and distribution.

Ekpo’s strategic vision, however, extends beyond national boundaries. The ongoing discussions surrounding the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project highlight his commitment to regional cooperation and energy integration. This ambitious project, connecting multiple nations and ultimately reaching Europe, has the potential to unlock new markets, diversify revenue streams, and solidify Nigeria’s position as a global energy leader.

In the same vein, recognizing the interconnectedness of the energy sector, Ekpo established an inter-ministerial gas task force in collaboration with the Ministry of Power. This collaborative effort fosters synergy between key stakeholders, aiming to address low gas supply to thermal power plants, enhancing energy security, and ultimately achieving sustainable growth along the power value chain. Ekpo’s inclusive leadership style is also underscored by his sustained engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders. From government agencies to industry players and external partners, this open dialogue fosters collaboration and consensus-building, a vital step in harnessing Nigeria’s vast gas reserves for the nation’s collective benefit. His focus on domestic LPG use could mean lower prices, putting clean, efficient energy within reach of millions of Nigerians, while igniting a wave of local business growth. This isn’t just about gas; it’s about empowering Nigerian homes and industries to thrive.Ekpo’s scorecard in the last six months is not without his pursuit of innovation as the engine of progress. Embracing the future, Ekpo champions technological advancements. His push for automation of the National Gas grid network and the revitalization of virtual pipeline deliveries demonstrates his commitment to optimizing gas supply chains, maximizing operational efficiency, and enabling real-time monitoring and response capabilities.

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