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(Special Report): How Sylva is fine-tuning Nigeria’s gas revolution drive

Less than one month of his official appointment and confirmation as the substantive Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, took off repositioning of the oil and gas industry with unprecedented commitment.

His first step was organizing the ‘Next Level Strategic Retreat’ on September 26, 2019 with Directors and Heads of Agencies of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, where he unveiled his clear roadmap for the Ministry in the next your years.

At the retreat, Chief Sylva made it clear that one of his priority areas remains the completion of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP).

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Program Manager , Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP), and Technical Adviser to the Minister on Gas Business and Policy Implementation, Mr Justice Derefaka

While expressing his resolve to drive the scheme with the power and federal political will it deserves, he extended gratitude to leading global giant in oil and gas exploration, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for grooming and graciously seconding to the Ministry, one of its best brains, Mr. Justice O. Derefaka to pilot NGFCP as Program Manager since 2017.

In further demonstration of his commitment to unlocking Nigeria’s gas fortunes and understanding that the NGFCP is the opportunity to attract deep pocket investments in gas flare capture projects whilst addressing a 60-year old environmental and social problem, the Minister not only retained, but upgraded Derefaka’s appointment from the position of the Program Manager of NGFCP to his personal Technical Adviser on Gas Business and Policy Implementation.

The Minister made it clear that “Whilst still superintending the NGFCP, you will assist me in driving the National Gas Policy (NGP) implementation built on the policy goal of the Federal Government on the gas sector.

Talking about the NGP, Business Hilights recalls that the policy goals of the Federal Government for the gas sector as presented in the 7 Big Wins initiative ( developed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the National Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP 2017 – 2020) remains the best working document in the pursuit for gas driven economy.

Program Manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP) and Technical Adviser to the Minister on Gas, Mr Justice Derefaka (2nd from right) with the Honorable Minister of State Petroleum Resources, His Excellency, Chief Timipre Sylva after an inter-Ministerial Steering Committee Meeting regarding the NGFCP in Abuja recently.

The Policy articulates the vision of the Federal Government of Nigeria, sets goals, strategies and an implementation plan for the introduction of an appropriate institutional, legal, regulatory and commercial framework for the gas sector. It is intended to remove the barriers affecting investment and development of the sector.

The NGP has been structured to be an attractive gas-based industrial nation, giving primary attention to meeting local gas demand requirements, and developing a significant presence in international markets.

The mission of the policy is to move Nigeria from a crude oil export-based economy to attractive oil and gas-based industrial economy considering Nigeria’s natural gas which had been adjudged globally as first-class quality, rich in natural gas liquids, almost Sulphur free and with very low carbon dioxide content.

Industry experts say as a low-cost industry, Nigeria’s natural gas offers higher returns and typically should be an attractive investment opportunity both for local and foreign investors.

Whereas NGFCP is approaching the strategic stage in the gas flare commercialization bidding process, Derefaka had been engaging global investors in gas development in line with the commitment of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.

Considering his dexterity and established mastery of gas development and investment drives, the Technical Adviser (TA) to the Minister, had been conferring with both local and mainly deep pocket foreign investors with the templates of salutary investment climate in Nigeria oil and gas sector.

Only recently, he was in Houston Texas, United State of America (USA), where he richly addressed prospective gas investors on the ease of doing business in Nigeria’s gas sector.

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Program Manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP) and Technical Adviser to the Minister on Gas, Mr Justice Derefaka, addressing participants at a gas forum organised by US Commercial Service recently

In an interview with journalists, Derefaka explained that going forward with the added responsibility, “This means is that apart from the NGFCP which is captured in section 6.4 of the National Gas Policy, my day to day job in the next four years is to assist the Honorable Minister leverage the Federal Government’s large gas portfolio to ensure that gas development is undertaken in accordance with Nigeria’s national socio-economic development priorities.”

According to him, “In doing this, we will be adopting strategic winning ways of working by involving a wide range of stakeholders that will be involved in the National Gas Policy implementation.”

“And amongst others, we will be looking at the implementation of a new and harmonized gas network code and a revised gas pricing regulation as provided by the Policy which will give more comfort to investors in Nigeria’s gas sector as there will be open access to gas facilities and infrastructure, and a more competitive price to encourage further investment and meet domestic demands.

“We will also seek to incentivize investment in gas liquefaction facilities through a Government undertaking to pay a tolling fee to the owners of such facilities for liquefying, shipping and regasification of the government’s equity gas.

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Program Manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP) and Technical Adviser to the Minister on Gas, Mr Justice Derefaka at a recent Gas Summit by EFI Houston, Texas, USA

Whereas industry pundits are upbeat that Derefaka’s industry and professional intelligence are clearly in sync with his duty demands, analysts are convinced that with the zeal and clear commitment of the Minister of State which is also in sync with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the growth of activities in Nigeria’s gas sector is underway.

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