Nigeria offers to fill gap in EU’s Russian gas supplies –

Nigeria is poised to dramatically increase gas supplies to Europe as the bloc desperately seeks alternatives to its current reliance on Russian energy.

Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, said at a meeting with EU diplomats in Abuja on Friday (March 25) that his country is ready to become an alternative gas supplier to the EU.

He called on the EU to encourage its oil and gas companies such as Shell, Eni and Total Energies to increase investments in Nigeria’s gas sector.

“We want to be reliable partners in solving the European energy problem and we can only achieve this together. Only by increasing investment in these sectors can Nigeria meet this obligation.”said Mr. Sylva.

Last week, at the European Council summit attended by President Joe Biden, the EU struck a deal with the United States to supply 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU this year. At the same time, some countries have started talks with Algeria, Qatar and other states about possible new supplies.

Algeria in particular is already supplying significant amounts of gas to countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Algeria, Niger and Nigeria recently agreed to build the 4,128 km, multi-billion euro Trans-Saharan gas pipeline that will cross the three countries to Europe and are seeking commercial investment for the project. When completed, the pipeline will transport 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

Before the energy crisis and the changes in the EU’s energy supply following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU had encouraged African countries to switch from fossil fuel production to green energy.

“We had previously warned about the speed with which the EU is reducing its investments in fossil fuels. We warned that this speed is greater than that of renewable energy development. You can now see that what we warned about is now happening.”said Mr Sylva in a critique of the EU’s position so far.

“More than $70 billion worth of investment has been made in Africa in the last decade, but sadly less than $4 billion has returned to Nigeria. Surprisingly, we are the largest country in Africa. If we can’t attract investment to Nigeria, you know where we’re going.”he explained.

In recent weeks, however, senior European Commission officials have made a major shift.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell announced that the EU is in talks with gas-producing countries, including Algeria, to increase LNG supplies.

Furthermore, European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo reached an agreement a week before the EU-African Union summit in Brussels in February“Examine all options to increase EU supply of LNG from Nigeria”.

With the Ukraine crisis threatening Europe’s supply of Russian gas, other gas producers in Africa, including Nigeria, have an opportunity to offer exports to Europe, allowing them to increase revenues while gaining a key geopolitical position.

Currently, the vast majority of Nigerian gas exports – around 90% – go to China.

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