THE recent plans by the Federal Government to increase the price of natural gas and the settlement of debt owed suppliers over the years, has been described as another major step taken by government to encourage investment in the sector, which will invariably reduce the rate of flaring.
According to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, while the pronouncement has received accolades from several industry players, others are skeptical about the future of a gas sector, which price would be dictated by government.
The Federal Government recently announced plans to increase the price of gas from $1.50 to $3.30 per metric cubic feet (mcf), which gas producers believed was still below international price per cubic feet.
But the plans was condemned by electricity consumers who said that it may push up the price of electricity tariff for domestic consumers in the next tariff review.
Speaking at the 16th Biennial Conference on Health, Safety and Environment, in Lagos, the minister hinted that the government was not willing to dictate price in the gas sector, which she said, operates on the basis of willing buyer, willing seller.
She however noted that the government found it imperative to kick-start the process that would ensure that the gas sector rivals, and even surpassed, oil as a revenue earner for nation.
Alison-Madueke commended all the partners that signed the gas supply agreement for the power sector and urged industry players to continue to cooperate with government to ensure that sustenance of good health, safety and environment practices.
“The ministry, on its part, will continue to set agenda that will guarantee effective safety of operations and sustainable environmental development for all, at all times”, she said.
She expressed government’s concern about crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in Nigeria.
According to her, the government views with grave concern the debilitating consequence of the activities of pipeline vandals, oil thieves and operators of illegal refineries otherwise known as “artisanal refiners”.
The effects of these activities, she hinted, have not only resulted in great loss of revenue accruable to government, but also led to loss of several lives and property, damage to the environment and socio-economic disconnect.
She stated: “On assumption of office, the government reviewed the situation critically and embarked on a number of reform measures. Apart from the amnesty programme, which has been hailed as a huge success, Government decided to revamp existing refineries and establish new ones in order to reduce the demand gap while cutting down on importation of petroleum products.
“Perhaps, one of the main indicators of the success of the initiatives of government in the sector, is the continued availability of petroleum products to the populace. This is in contradistinction with the experience of the past, when Nigerians queued endlessly at filling stations for poor quality gasoline and adulterated kerosene that killed innocent people”.