Nigeria unable to take advantage of $50bn 2019 LNG investments

Nigeria and all other African countries lost out in a $50 billion liquefied natural gas inbestment for 2019, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Stakeholders in the LNG sector, who expressed concern over the development, described it as a major setback for the country in its quest to develop its gas potential. Nigeria, with a proven gas reserve of 200.79 trillion cubic feet (tcf), has been unable to tap the inherent benefit in this natural resource over drawbacks in its extant gas policy which investors see as a major disincentive.

According to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria’s gas reserves have increased by 7.3 per cent from 187 trillion cubic feet to 200.79 tcf. Deputy Manager, Gas Division of DPR, Mr Olawale Ogunsola, said, at a recent technical workshop organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)  “that National gas reserves rose to 200.79 trillion cubic feet as at January 1, 2019.”

He said the nation’s daily gas production stood at 1.2 billion standard cubic feet. According to him, 41 per cent of the daily production is exported and 48 per cent goes to the domestic market while 11 per cent is being flared. The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas(NLNG) $10 billion Train 7 project which could have lifted the fortunes of the LNG sector had its Final Investment Decision(FID) for the project shifted till October 2019

NLNG earlier this year, said funds were being sourced by the company to actualise the project, as the plant would grow the NLNG’s production capacity from 22mtpa to 30mtpa when completed. But International Energy Agency’s head, Fatih Birol, told an industry conference that 2019 already broke the highest amount of (final investment decisions) for the first time ever, $50 billion,” Birol told the LNG Producer-Consumer conference in Tokyo, Japan Unsurprisingly, the driver of this growth in investments is rising demand for the fuel in Asia, with China still expected to overtake Japan as the world’s top importer of LNG.

“The biggest growth is coming from China. In the next five years, about one-third of global LNG demand will come from China alone,” Birol said. He added that in five years, China will become the largest importer of the fuel. As for the growth in investments, there are no surprises there, either. The bulk of these have been made in the United States and Canada.

In a December 2018 report, the Energy Information Administration said it expected the United States’ LNG export capacity to double by the end of this year to 8.9 billion cu ft daily. This will make the U.S. the third-largest exporter of LNG in terms of capacity after Qatar and Australia. By 2030, US LNG exports are estimated to reach 17 billion cu ft daily, from some 3 billion cu ft at the start of 2019. In Canada, there is just one LNG project under development right now–LNG Canada–but it could have a final capacity of 28 million tons of the fuel annually. The $31 billion project is led by Shell, with minority participants including Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi and Kogas.

Meanwhile, Qatar is stepping up its efforts to keep its number-one spot in the global LNG export race. The country has lifted a moratorium on new drilling in its North Field–the world’s largest offshore gas field Qatar shares with Iran–aiming to boost export capacity by 43 percent to 11 million tons annually.

Global LNG demand is seen at 550 million tons by 2030, according to projections by IHS Markit.  The SUN