1.It is my pleasure to be at The WAFGAS Conference and Exhibition 2017, organised by the Senate Committee on Gas in collaboration with WAFGAS Conferences Limited. The theme of this 3-Day conference, which is, ‘Portfolio Optimization of Domestic Gas Usage in West Africa’ is one that is long overdue. It also serves to focus our attention on critical areas of attention, if indeed we are serious when we talk about diversifying revenue sources, in the quest to move our economy away from oil. There is no better time than now – when the Nigerian economy is in gradual recovery from a difficult period of recession – to take stock and realign our priorities to our needs, so that we do not slip back into the complacency that has characterised our relationship with crude oil.

2.It is pleasing to observe that this event is a very robust programme that is solution-oriented, and capable of challenging us to rethink our approach to this high value resource, so we can optimize the socio-economic benefits attainable in the development of gas. The conference takes a legislative approach in line with government’s goals of increasing gas utilisation while reducing gas flaring. WAFGAS also provides a platform for networking and sharing ideas on how to move the sector forward, and boasts the participation of critical stakeholders including: environmental organisations, oil and gas industry practitioners, as well as investors, foreign and local.

3.The National Gas Policy 2017 sets the context for the challenges the country faces in the sector. According to the Policy, “Nigeria is experiencing a full-blown energy crisis in spite of the abundant gas resources.” Therefore, what is required is a new approach that is “more effective and adjusted for much harsher international business environment for gas… to drive the reform necessary to attract investment into the sector.”

4.Ladies and gentlemen, the gas industry has been near-moribund for many years. Our country lacks the critical gas infrastructure, and is falling short of its Domestic Gas Supply Obligation. This is in a larger international context in which many other countries have already tapped the economic benefits of re-injecting gas flared back into the fields, while optimizing the resource by converting it into liquefied natural gas, domestic cooking gas and other uses. Nigeria, meanwhile, appears fixated on gas flaring – at quantities that far outstrip the rest of Africa by 40 per cent, representing lost revenue of about seven (7) billion dollars. Apart from the monumental economic waste, gas flaring is unsustainable for many other reasons, not least of which are the adverse effects on the environment and human health.

5.It is pertinent to note that Nigeria is lagging behind internationally in efforts to end gas flaring by the Year 2030, in line with World Bank proposals. Moreover, as demand for Renewable Energy grows in the West, with countries like the Netherlands and Norway taking the lead in future-forward gas flaring policies, there is really no other option for us but to take decisive action in this area. There is the need for more concerted efforts on the part of government and the industry to promote and optimize gas for domestic use in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa.

6.The National Assembly has always taken cognizance of the need to make laws that impact on the well-being of Nigerians, and to open up opportunities in the oil and gas sector. A key plank of this vision is the need to convert gas for optimal domestic usage. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) had for nearly two decades been an unmovable piece of proposed legislation. That was until it was split into four parts, namely: Petroleum Industry Governance Bill; Petroleum Industry Administration Bill; Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill; and the Petroleum Host Community Bill.

7.Happily, the 8th Senate has broken the PIB jinx with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill. The three other components of the Bill are at Committee Stage and we are resolute in our commitment to their passage, in recognition of the far-reaching impact they will have on our economy in this period of recovery, and into the future.

8.The key objectives of the PIB include the creation of a conducive business environment to, amongst other things, optimize domestic gas supplies, particularly for power generation and industrial development. The PIB also aims to establish a progressive fiscal framework that encourages greater investment in the Petroleum Industry while optimizing revenues accruing to government, to deregulate and liberalise the downstream sector, promote transparency and openness in the administration of the sector, as well as promoting local content through an efficient and effective regulatory framework.

9.The opportunities for investment in the Nigerian oil and gas sector are immense, particularly due to the ever growing population and the high demand for petroleum products across the wide spectrum of the citizenry, regardless of economic status.

10.This is why the WAFGAS Conference and Exhibition is such a boon to smart investors. It aims to become the leading exhibition and conference platform for gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and energy industries on the continent; and represents a generational shift in the empowerment of African entrepreneurs, practitioners and investors to actualise the potentials and aspirations in the sector.

11.Ladies and gentlemen, this innovative event offers a unique opportunity for the ‘Next Big Ideas’ to emerge in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors, for the greater prosperity of Nigeria and Africa. The world is watching. I urge you all to grab the opportunities with both hands.

12.Thank you for listening, and I wish you a successful conference and exhibition.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections