Access To Finance Bane Of Nigeria’s Oil And Gas Development- Minister

Joseph Bakare

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has expressed worries over lack of funds to expand oil and gas exploration in the country.

Sylva, attributed negative remarks and stories about Nigeria by Nigerians as frightening investors and hindering the access to foreign capital needed to drive the nation’s oil and gas industry.

The minister who raised the concern in Abuja during a press conference at the third edition of the Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), said: “Our people are now participants in this industry, but one thing is lacking. Technically our people have become very competent. They can run this industry. But this industry is a combination of two things: technical competence and access to capital.

“We cannot now access capital, although we have the technical competence. And what makes it difficult to access capital? One of the things that make it difficult to access capital when it comes to Nigeria are the things that we put out there about
Nigeria.

“All the time we add to the country’s risks; the perception about Nigeria, because we enjoy saying all the evil things about Nigeria, and never dwell on those things that are great about Nigeria”.

He disclosed that Nigeria has discovered one billion barrels of crude reserves in the North-east and that a lot of oil is yet to be found in Nigeria if there were more exploration activities.

The minister noted that though the country was not yet a mature territory for oil, it is still a very prolific region.

He said: “From the evaluation report we are getting, the reserves that have been discovered in the North-east is about a billion barrels. And they are beginning to understand to geological structure of that area.

“If there is a lot of exploration, we believe that a lot of oil still remains to be found in Nigeria. And that is the beauty about Nigeria. Nigeria is not yet a mature territory; it is still very prolific.

“There has been no targeted exploration for gas and yet we have 200 TCF reserves. So, we believe that if we really go out looking for gas, we can find a lot more that will put us in the league of the most prolific in the world”.

“Let us allow the investment to come into Nigeria because there is still a lot of oil and gas to be found. Unfortunately, the bad news is that the world’s 2020 outlook tells you that by 2040, oil and gas will account for only 50 per cent of the energy of the world.”

Sylva however pointed out that there was need for the country to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), saying for so long Nigeria had been delaying in passing the bill.

According to Sylva, Nigeria’s oil industry had been been stagnating due to unclear fiscal terms resulting in lack of investment in the sector.

The minister futher attributed the country’s inability to grow the oil reserves to back of investment.

He added: “From 2007 to now, we have only been able to grow our reserves from 37 billion barrels to 37.5 billion barrels, in more than 10 years. Why? Not much investment is coming into Nigeria.

“If you were an investor, and you are coming to invest in Nigeria and you see that the fiscal framework is shaking or uncertain nobody knows what laws will be passed – nobody will want to invest new capital in Nigeria. And that is why you see that we have almost been stagnant in the Nigerian oil industry.

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