George-OsahonThe Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and President of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Mr. George Osahon, has stated that contrary to the concerns being raised that the discovery of shale gas by some countries would affect the export of Nigeria’s conventional gas, the new discovery would rather stimulate competition among oil and gas exporting countries.

Shale gas, according to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), refers to natural gas that is trapped within shale formations, which are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas.

Shale gas is extracted by hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a process in which water, chemicals, and sand are pumped into the well to unlock the gas trapped in shale formations.

Reacting to concerns that Nigeria’s crude oil export would suffer in the next couple of years following the discovery of Shale gas as a source of energy by the United States, China, India and other major importers of Nigeria’s crude oil, Osahon told THISDAY at the weekend that the discovery of shale gas would help countries employ relevant technology to identify their competitive advantages over other countries.

He said rather than being regarded as a spoiler to Nigeria, unconventional gas has become a game-changer in the global energy dynamics.

“It is a threat and at the same time, not a threat. Whether we like it or not, there is nothing that will not go through competition. As long as the earth remains, there will always be competition. So, we see it as a threat because we think it is competing with the conventional oil and gas but that does not stop our oil and gas from selling. What we need to do is to say, what does not stand to gain or lose with the advent of unconventional gas? First and foremost, do we also have unconventional gas?

“If we have unconventional gas, how much unconventional gas do we have? What does it need in terms of exploitation? Can we be fracking in Nigeria? What is the nature of our technology for us to be able to overcome the consequences there from? Can we be able to establish such reserves? There are so many questions to ask. I think as a country, we need to establish what our competitive advantage is,” he explained.

He said what Nigeria needed was to ascertain if shale gas could also be found in the country and quantify the volume available in the country.

“If you know that you have unconventional gas, you should quantify it and probably decide when you are likely to go from conventional to unconventional. Does Nigeria have access to tar sand or bitumen? The answer is yes. So, you should quantify it and tell yourself that you also have it. If you have coal, quantify it so that as a country, you will know exactly where you are in the global energy scene. You do not have to exploit your unconventional gas now.

“Japan is talking about hydrates. Do we have hydrates? If we have it, we should quantify it to know where we are. That is what I will advise. I do not see it as a spoiler; it is probably a game-changer but it is not a spoiler. It just goes to show that we need to do a lot more things about our conventional oil and gas and establish where we are in the unconventional energy scene,” he added.

The discovery of shale gas in the global energy dynamics has raised doubt over the capacity of crude oil to sustain Nigeria’s economy in the next few years as crude oil accounts for over 80 per cent of the country’s revenue.

Nigeria exports an average of 2.2 million barrels of crude oil per day and consumes roughly 286,000 barrels per day, according to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA).


Information from This Day was used in this report.