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NUPRC Boss Komolafe Urges Nigeria to Expedite Oil Exploration Amid Growing Global Investment in Renewables, EVs

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Chief Executive of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Mr Gbenga Komolafe, has stated that with the growing global investment in renewables and Electric Vehicles (EVs), Nigeria must not delay in getting its hydrocarbon resources out of the ground.

In an interview with THISDAY, Komolafe also called for a change of mind-set by oil-producing communities, maintaining that efforts by the commission to attract investment will be fruitless if the business environment remains hostile.

He explained that for investors to be persuaded by the persistent pressure being mounted by NUPRC, especially with its recent road show abroad, they must be assured of the security of their investments.

According to Komolafe, “We are still trying to do the job of a pastor that is trying to convert hardened sinners.  Well, that’s the job we are doing now to get investment into the oil upstream. But we are not giving up. We are doing everything.

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“Because the truth of the matter is that the industry is facing a very critical moment. The mind (of oil-bearing areas) needs to shift, and this needs to shift for two reasons. The first reason is that, whether we like it or not, the world is going decarbonised, I mean, with the footprint of renewables.

“Whether we like it or not, EVs are out. And more researches are coming with the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and all that. We know that fossil fuels will still continue to reign, but the competition, I mean, the competition with fossil fuels in terms of funding has become so high, which will cut the funding.

“So, to that extent, the first logical thing to look at is that all the funding that is going into renewables now used to go to fossil fuels. So, we are monitoring the trend. The rate of growth of investment in renewables is far outstripping that of fossil fuels. That is the truth.”

He expressed concern that if Nigeria’s God-given resources were not aggressively explored and exploited, it could become like the coal in Enugu, which nobody was currently fighting over.

Komolafe stated, “So, the mind shift for us should be for those two reasons: The first reason is that because of the global footprint in energy transition, the momentum is getting high with immediate consequence of defunding.

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“So, if that is the case, it now means that if we are able to get investors, we should be very sensitive to how we handle them by creating a congenial and favourable atmosphere for these investments to thrive. And if that happens, then the multiplier effect of that will cushion the economic situation.”

Komolafe emphasised that while the commission was doing everything within its powers to draw the attention of the world to why Nigeria remained a good destination for investors, it would be appropriate to extract cooperation from the communities for their own economic prosperity.

The NUPRC boss and his team were in the United States last week for a roadshow as Nigeria ramped up efforts to draw international attention to the ongoing oil blocks bid round.

Nigeria has over 37 billion reserves of crude oil and over 209 TCF of gas, but has been unable to fully take advantage of the resources due partly due to waning investment in the sector as well as insecurity in the Niger Delta.

Komolafe said, “Before we said we wanted to go and attract investors offshore. Look, if people like me don’t do what we are doing, the result will just be like coal in Enugu. It will become useless. I mean, who is bothered about what is happening in Enugu now? Nobody is bothered about it. They have coal, but it is useless.

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“They have coal, the coal is there, nobody is quarrelling over it now. Yes, the coal is under the ground there abundantly, nobody is using coal to drive trains, locomotives now, nobody.

“So, the same way we are asking for support. We need to do it fast so that the multiplier effect of getting these investors will impact on our life and funds from there can be used to develop our critical infrastructure.

“So, the mind-set has to change. Whether we like it or not, the era of militancy should be done with. These investors, if we are able to attract some of them, then we are ready.

“Thank God, now we have the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), so we can inculcate social inclusion, so that we can have a conducive, congenial operating atmosphere.”

Emmanuel Addeh

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