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Solution to Nigeria’s problems lies in petroleum sector – Lokpobiri

The Minister of Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri has said the solution to Nigeria’s numerous challenges was in the petroleum sector which he noted, handles the highest percentage of forex transactions.

Lokpobiri made the disclosure in his Opening Remarks at the Sectoral Retreat on the Ministerial Deliverables 2023-2027, organised by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on Tuesday in Abuja with the theme, : ‘Building Synergy for Enhanced Development in the Oil and Gas Sector.’

According to him, despite divestments by  International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria, the Federal Government was able to attract over $ 5 million (N7.5billion) in two months in the oil and gas sector.

The Minister while noting that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was watching the sector keenly to see if it would meet the target of ramping up production, however expressed optimism that the sector was poised to surpass the performance indicators set in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration.

Lokpobiri who noted he has signed licenses for some modular refineries without knowing the owners in order to promote a fair participation, maintained that the sector would be able to meet and even surpass the production target once production was ramped up.

He said: “If we ramp up production, we will be able to meet our targets in terms of increase in revenue.

 “I’ve signed a couple of modular refineries without knowing who owns it and I have warned them I won’t want to know who owns it before I cancel the license. I’m trying to reduce mediocrity, nobody needs to know the minister to get any document signed.

“We are doing all we can to see how we can attract investments. This administration has been building confidence of investors who have left and they have promised to come back. I’m seeing us surpassing our investment target this year.

“This retreat should come up with a clear and implementable template on how to achieve what the President has targeted for us and possibly surpass it.

The Oil Minister who said, there was a need to align the policies in the sector to meet global standards, added: “one of the key performance indicators of the ministry is to ensure that frameworks are globally competitive.”

On his part, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, stated that gas remains a vital transition fuel with potential to bridge the gap between traditional fossil fuels and renewable sources of energy, adding that in pursuit of a low-carbon economy, gas often referred to as the “cleanest” fossil fuel, offers a number of noteworthy benefits.

Ekpo said, “Gas burning emits a great deal less greenhouse gas than that of coal and oil, which makes it a desirable choice for lowering carbon emissions and slowing down global warming”.

 “Gas-fired power plants are incredibly adaptable and can be quickly ramped up or down to account for variations in the production of renewable energy, offering a dependable backup for intermittent sources like solar and wind power.”

Ekpo who stressed the need to prioritize infrastructure development to support the exploration, production, processing, and distribution of gas by investing in gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, and gas processing plants to ensure efficient transportation and monetization of the nation’s gas resources.

According to him, expanding the gas infrastructure network could enhance access to gas markets, stimulate investment in upstream exploration and production activities, and create new opportunities for economic growth and diversification.

“This entails not only increasing domestic gas production but also promoting the adoption of gas as a cleaner alternative for power generation, industrial processes, transportation, and household use.

“Initiatives such as the “Decade of Gas” are instrumental in driving gas utilization across various sectors through targeted interventions, infrastructure development, and policy incentives.”