In this interview with Journalists Chairman of Society for Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Nigeria Council. Engr. Felix Chijioke Obike, speaks about energy transition amongst other issues. YEMISI IZUORA was there for Oriental News Nigeria
What is your outlook for the energy transition in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa?
In the short term, Africa and Nigeria are not going to transition away from oil and gas. Rather there would be a transition away from emissions. Technologies, processes, and frameworks are emerging to take care of CO2 and methane emissions and also harness them for safer use.
We are located in areas with substantial solar intensity and as such, in the long term, Nigeria and Africa would witness a more advanced energy mix with a very diminished dominance of fossil fuel but an increased footprint of solar power. Africa is expected to be powered by alternative energy sources.
How do you advice government on energy transition plan?
For Nigeria, the already established Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) should be allowed to run smoothly and there should be room for adjustments as situations demand in line with changing global best practices and local energy outlook.
Given massive gas utilization as fuel for energy transition how would that affect your members with oil assets?
No, not at all. At least in the next 50 years, oil and gas will dominate the global energy mix and that means those with the majority of oil asset owners are still in good business.
Do you still see a future for fossil fuels?
Yes, I do. However, there would be advanced technologies emerging to tackle emissions and the traditional Exploration and Production process.
Attracting funding for the sector and big gas utilization projects in Nigeria is an ordeal, why is this so?
Funding oil and gas-related business have been a challenge in the recent time simply because of the outcome of COP21 which erroneously placed reliance on alternative energy sources other than oil and gas. This led many International Oil Companies (IOCs) to sell their foreign assets. However, the recent global energy crisis has reawakened the exploration and production business, especially with gas which is a transition fuel.
One of the ways to solve this challenge is by communicating the right information about energy trilemma. By trilemma, I mean the need to find the balance between energy reliability, affordability, and sustainability and its impact on everyday lives. The right information should invoke investors’ confidence.
Should Nigeria put in more efforts towards growing her oil reserves or focus on diversifying away from fossil fuels?
As I did explain earlier, there should be long-term and short-term goals. For the short-term goal, like in the next 30 years, the answer is YES, Nigeria should put in more effort towards growing her reserves and at the same time delving into new technologies that drive emission reduction or total elimination. Nigeria could focus on diversifying away from fossil fuel in the long term and we are not there now.
What low hanging fruits can the in coming administration should captilise on to leapfrog Nigeria’s oil and gas industry?
In my view, the energy crises in Europe has created a very high demand for alternative gas source in Europe and this incoming administration could harness this opportunity as a money spinner to revamp the economy and the oil and gas industry.
The upcoming SPE OLEF 2023 focuses on gas utilization, is that SPE’s way of pushing the energy transition agenda ?
Yes, it is. OLEF is one of the several events held by SPE in Nigeria and SPE uses these events to spotlight areas of concern in the industry globally and locally and also expressly communicate our position. The vision of SPE is to “advance the oil and gas producing and related energy communities’ ability to meet the world’s energy needs in a safe, secure, and sustainable manner” and all these are embedded in the vision.
What are SPE’s objectives for organizing the Annual Oloibiri lecture series and energy forum?
Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum is an annual lecture series focused on contributing to oil and gas policy development for Nigeria in commemoration of the first oil well drilled in Nigeria by Shell Darcy at Oloibiri, in Ogbia, Bayelsa State, in 1956. The maiden edition was in 1991.
What key factors differentiate SPE from its industry peers?
The extent of dissemination of technical knowledge and availability of technical materials to SPE members make us stand out in the delivery of our day-to-day tasks. The quality of the leadership and soft skills that are acquired through SPE volunteerism compares to no other training institution in Nigeria. SPE also creates great networking opportunities for businesses and careers.
How will you describe the key phases of SPENC’s development in the last 10 years of its existence?
In SPE, we are very innovative. In the last decade, there is a significant increase and flexibility on how we reach out to our members and the industry. Several events and activities are targeting our industry, the government, associated industries, academia, future leaders, and the very young ones in primary and secondary schools with energy-centric information.