Nigerian Professor Argues For Coal Industry Revival

General Muhammadu Buhari (Photo from Chatham House, London / Creative Commons)

Albert Obanor, a professor at the University of Benin, said to an audience of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, on June 27, that Nigeria needed to revive its coal industry to prevent power shortages.

Obanor specifically singled out President Muhammadu Buhari and recommended using coal as an alternative to natural gas, which is not a reliable source of energy.

The country’s infrastructure for natural gas is poor, despite holding the largest natural gas reserves out of all African countries.

Nigeria, aside from crude oil, is one of the top exporters and producers of natural gas. It heavily depends on natural gas for revenue. Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited, comprised of government officials and leaders of foreign firms, estimated at least $85 billion was made in the past 15 years because of natural gas exports.

Russian officials recently expressed interest in the country’s oil and natural gas.

Valeriy Shaposhmikov, a Russian diplomat, told journalists last month companies like Gazprom would invest in Nigeria’s energy reserves to provide thousands of jobs:

An important area could be oil and gas sector – a major Russian oil and gas company Gazprom could be involved in developing pipelines infrastructure and protection system, an oil company Lukoil is coming to work here. There is interest in the development of the solid mineral resources.

Obanor defended suggestions to privatize the energy sector and even called for a security force to defend pipelines from vandalism. The latter may refer to Boko Haram, the terrorist group in the country. (more…)

Nigerian President-Elect Seeks to Shift Investment From Oil to Other Sectors

Nigerian President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari, who beat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and will take office on May 29, pledged to invest more resources into other sectors of the economy like agriculture instead of relying on oil.

Buhari believes such investments will provide much-needed jobs for Nigerians, especially amid the massive drop of oil prices:

In the economy, we have to quickly turn to agriculture and mining because that is where you can do the quickest work and earn results.

In terms of oil exports, Nigeria is a top producer with the country being Africa’s largest petroleum producer. Moreover, it holds the most natural gas reserves out of all African countries.

In addition, Nigeria is a member of OPEC after joining in 1971. The country depends so much on oil and gas that it “accounts for about 35 percent of [the nation’s] gross domestic product.”

Although, being the country with the most oil includes some downsides such as corruption. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reported on June 19, 2000 how, in spite of their profitability, resources, including oil, have been a clutch for African nations such as Nigeria.

‘With the advent of oil, the government lost its initiative,’ sighs Chidi Duru, a Nigerian lawmaker who blames the oil feeding frenzy for the decline of the country’s once-prosperous farm economy. ‘In a sense it has become a curse, not a blessing.’

Recently, allegations arose that the previous administration, under President Goodluck Jonathan, took $20 billion from oil revenues. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the country’s finance minister, denied it ever occurred.

Nigeria also depends on energy imports because its refineries are not reliable enough to fuel the country. For a country once believed to be the next Saudi Arabia or Kuwait when oil was discovered in the 1950s, oil has failed to develop the country, even though it accounts for as much as 25 to 30 percent of the country’s GDP.

In 2005, crude oil production peaked at 2.4 million barrels per day, yet “began to decline significantly as violence from militant groups surged, forcing many companies to withdraw staff and shut in production.” (more…)