Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea have started talks on commercial partnership to boost gas production for the benefit of both countries.
Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Gabriel Lima, made this known while speaking to journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, following the unveiling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.
The Nigerian Government through this measure has officially changed the NNPC from a wholly state-owned outfit to a commercial oil company.
Lima noted that strengthening the bilateral relations on oil and gas with Nigeria will help in eradicating energy poverty, increasing and utilizing gas supply for the benefit of African citizens.
“Equatorial Guinea is working close with Nigeria regarding the possibility of utilizing the gas for the benefit of our both people, especially for the purpose eradicating the energy poverty.
“And we are working on the possibility to sign a bilateral agreement that will allow more commercial activities to happen between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
“So we are just continuing with this cooperation with the aim that very soon we can start the commercial deals between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea especially on the utilization of gas,” Lima said.
The Minister also said that although the Russian-Ukraine war had imposed a myriad of challenges on Africa, it also presents some opportunities that could be exploited for the benefit of the continent.
He said urged gas producing countries of Africa to increase gas production for export to generate more revenue.
Lima stressed the need for oil and gas producing African countries to learn from the negative impact of the Russian-Ukraine war on their economies and focus on creating their own market.
“As an oil and gas producer, the Russian-Ukraine war, has a positive and negative. Of course, the positive is very clear.
“For the first time in the history of Equatorial Guinea we have been able to have more revenue by gas than oil, that is very good for the Ministry of finance.
“But at the same time it has been a negative because we are still an importing country of refined products so our refined product have been sky rocketed and some of our refined products are subsidized.
“So in the short term, it is a good benefit but in the long term we are very worried that it will be a demand destruction.
“The lesson is that we need to focus on creating our own market for many years rather than depending on exporting our products out of the continent.
“We have big countries, economies in Africa like South Africa, Morocco, even Nigeria. and to be able to do that we need to focus on how to create those market.
“The biggest problem of that is the lack of infrastructure, and this is where I talk about terminals. Because it is very sad to say that even though we are a big producer, even though we can export cargo of one million barrels.
“One of the critical things is to focus on how we can create our own market to see one of the key solutions is to have more interconnections probably by pipelines that go with oil, gas, LNG,” Lima added.
The Minister also urged African countries to depeen the collaboration as a strong regional bloc rather than individually.
“Another key thing is that we need to start thinking regionally rather than on just one country.
“If you put together Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, it is not enough market.
“But if you put together Nigeria, Ghana, the Equatorial Guinea, DRC, that is when we are talking about serious business,” Lima added.
Lima noted that strengthening the bilateral relations between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea goes beyond the oil and gas sector to expanding trade, establishing a direct air link between both countries, sharing expertise among others.