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The draft Nigerian National Gas Policy (NNGP) is a long awaited document, essential for a country that has so far not been able to establish any viable legal and regulatory frameworks for natural gas, and that has regressed in the entire petroleum (crude oil and natural gas) sector for decades thanks to a lack of policy direction and an obsolete legal framework. Drafted by a team of specialists in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR), it is to ‘address gas issues, articulate the [the Federal Government of Nigeria’s] vision for the sector and set policy goals, strategies and an implementation plan to resolve the barriers currently affecting investment in the sector.’  This is a brief comment on the NNGP, written primarily from a governance perspective, and in alignment with the global move towards inclusive growth in energy use, commonly referred to by the catch phrase sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL).

COMMENCEMENT: The NNGP is an articulate 130-page document. However, it commences with a jolt. After stating its aim, it appears to attempt to assume a quasi-legislative character by pronouncing that once it has been ‘issued and gazetted,’ it will bind government officials unless and until it amended or replaced by another formal restatement, which must also be gazetted.[1] One wonders; is this an attempt to ensure implementation just in case the recommended legislation on gas goes the way of past Petroleum Industry Bills? Any lawyer knows that a gazetted policy can never metamorphose into a legally binding document, and that law-making remains the preserve of the Legislature.

The Federal Government on Tuesday said full integration of the Nigerian Master Plan would bring about $25 billion investment in gas processing, transmission and downstream gas utilization in the next few years. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum, Sheik Goni said this in a paper titled: “Gas Revolution and its Implementation: Industry and Government Perspectives” delivered at the first Nigerian Gas Association Business Forum 2011 in Lagos.

He said that the Gas Master Plan’s key objective is to encourage the use of gas in power and other industries for multiplier effects, making Nigeria a strategic player in the global gas market and ensuring energy security for the country.

“Over the next few years, full integration of the Nigerian Gas Master Plan agenda would result in about $25 billion worth of investment in gas processing, transmission and downstream gas utilization,” he said. He said pursuant to the drive to achieve the gas master plan, the ministry has among other things developed the franchise agreements, developed gas based industrialization strategy and generated liquefied petroleum gas and renewable energy development strategy.

Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ) estimates that Nigeria had 184 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of January 2009, which makes Nigeria the seventh largest natural gas reserve holder in the world and the largest in Africa. The majority of the natural gas reserves are located in the Niger Delta. In 2007, Nigeria produced 1,204 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas, while consuming 456 Bcf. Approximately 749 Bcf were exported, mostly as liquefied natural gas (LNG). In 2007, Nigerian exports of LNG to the US were 95 Bcf, making it the third largest source of LNG imports after Trinidad (447 Bcf) and Egypt (115 Bcf).