Experts in the oil and gas sector have warned that Nigeria may become a net importer of crude oil in view of the ongoing destruction of oil installations in the Niger Delta region.
The experts, who spoke at a stakeholders’ roundtable on the perennial fuel scarcity in Nigeria organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Civil Society Organisations and Development Partners, said unless an urgent action was taken, the country may be in for a bigger problem.
In a keynote address, the chairman of the board of the Energy Institute of Nigeria, Mr. Osten Olorunsola, said for Nigeria to move forward from the stagnation caused by over-reliance on oil, the country must avoid being stuck with past paradigms.
Mr. Olorunsola, who retired from Shell Petroleum to join the public sector, chronicled the history of oil exploration in Nigeria and factors leading to the dominance of the sector to the detriment of other sectors.
He said the nation in order to move forward from the stagnation caused by over-reliance on oil, Nigeria must avoid being stuck with past paradigms, which tended to shut down ideas and limited solution horizons.
“Having clear understanding and accommodating new thinking and ideas may just be all we have been waiting for. For example, I see a surge to establish new refineries as a way of helping to solve the supply problem.
“That looks good, albeit with potential huge risks. As at the last tally, country-wide aggregate capacity of existing plus newly approved refinery licences was greater than two million barrels per day by the year 2020.
“Whereas that looks like the direction we aspire to go, I like to freely advise green refinery investors to ensure all critical considerations for viability are met. A key requirement that gives me real concern is the availability of crude oil as feed stock.
“If all that capacity is indeed achieved as planned (which we are praying for), I bet we may become a net importer of crude oil considering the installed and available production capacity today, the natural decline in the hydrocarbon reservoirs, and the unhealthy outlook for investment in the upstream due to militancy in the production environment,” he said.
Declaring the event open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by his deputy, Yussuf Suleiman Lasun, said the House was concerned about the perennial fuel scarcity, and as a way of finding solution to it, decided to organize the roundtable.
The chairman of the committee, Rep Peter Akpatason (APC, Edo), said due to the ad-hoc and non-sustainable nature of most of the measures adopted in the past, the problem of fuel scarcity had become persistent.