The European Union (EU) yesterday continued to mount pressure on Nigeria to ramp up its gas supply to Europe, with a visit to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari.
The visit to the GMD came days after EU ambassadors paid a similar visit to the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, apparently in a bid to mount pressure on the country to raise its gas production.
Since the Russia-Ukraine war started, Europe has sought to free itself of Russian hydrocarbons, which produces up to 40 per cent of its total gas consumption. But Nigeria has been unable to increase production and supply despite its over 206tcf of proven gas due to under-investment and inadequate infrastructure.
Earlier, the delegation which met with Sylva, included the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Samuela Isopi and French ambassador to Nigeria, Emmaunelle Blatmann.
Others were: The Spanish ambassador to Nigeria, Juan Sell; Portuguese ambassador, Luis Barros, and Italian Deputy Head of Mission, Tarek Chazli.
At the event, the federal government had urged Europe to step up investments in gas and other hydrocarbons in Nigeria to be able to help meet the EU energy demand.
Sylva said although Nigeria was ready to step in as an alternative gas supplier to Europe, the continent has to encourage its oil and gas companies such as Shell, Eni, Total Energies among others to scale up investments in the gas sector in Nigeria.
Aside Nigeria, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, THISDAY learnt, arrived in Algeria yesterday, with an agenda to prioritise the acquisition of larger volumes of Algerian gas.
Algeria currently supplies 30 per cent of the gas required by Italy, and 40 percent comes from Russia, according to official figures.
Draghi’s visit, which would last two days, was a prelude to that of the chairman of the Italian energy group Eni, Claudio Descalzi, a few days ago, during which he met with Toufik Hakar, president of Sonatrach, the Algerian hydrocarbons agency, with whom he reviewed the state the bilateral partnership.
In addition, Egypt and the EU yesterday, held a meeting pledging to enhance cooperation in energy, during consultations between Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly and Frans Timmermans, the EU’s climate chief, in Cairo.
The delegations discussed the potential supply of liquefied natural gas to Europe in the short term, and whether the EU would contribute to building a green hydrogen production facility in Egypt to help the country become a production centre in the region, according to a statement.
In Nigeria, a brief statement signed by the Group General Manager Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Garba Deen, yesterday said the visit to the NNPC management sought to strengthen its partnership with Nigeria in the energy sector.
Speaking on behalf of the group, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Isopi, said as a result of the current geopolitical situation in Europe, the continent was interested in strengthening its cooperation with Nigeria, particularly in the area of possible increase in the supplies of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
“Nigeria is the fourth gas supplier to Europe. At least 40 per cent of the Nigerian LNG is currently exported to Europe. We are not only major clients for Nigeria, we are also major partners in the oil and gas sector because some of the companies that are working with you are from Europe. So we share the same interest and same objectives,” Isopi was quoted as saying.
Responding, the Kyari assured the European delegation that the company would continue to deepen its historical relationship with EU companies in Nigeria in order to add more value to its business, particularly towards increasing gas supply to the global market and enhancing domestic gas utilisation.
Other diplomats from the European delegation on the visit, according to the statement, were: The Ambassador of Portugal, Barros; Ambassador of Spain, Sell; Ambassador of Italy, Stefano De Leo and Deputy Head of Mission (France), Olivier Chatelais.
Culled from THISDAY