The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has called on the federal government to subject the prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG), otherwise known as cooking gas, to the market forces.
Sarki Auwalu, the Chief Executive Officer, (DPR), expressed the view that to achieve uninterrupted supply of gas, government should allow the forces of demand and supply to guide the pricing of the product.
The position of DPR aligns with a similar call by the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari who said the corporation could no longer bear the burden of sustaining the expensive subsidy regime on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and that its prices should be market- driven .
The positions of these two regulatory bodies in the Oil and Gas industry will no doubt put further pressure on Nigerians as this is sure to push up the prices of these essential products.
In his keynote address at the pre-summit conference on “Decade of Gas’, in Abuja, on Monday, Auwalu said the right and market-based pricing of gas was critical, as it would assure producers of returns on their investments.
He listed five critical levers for gas development, especially as Nigeria moves to leverage its abundant gas resources for national growth, diversification of the economy and utilization las the fuel for economic tansformation.
According to him, the levers include availability, accessibility, affordability, and acceptability, as well as deliverability.
He insisted that these were critical to utilising Nigeria’s proven gas reserves of 203 trillion cubic feet, TCF, for national development.
“Whereas references have been made to the other elements in this discussion, right pricing of gas is requiring particular attention to ensure security of gas supply and security of credible gas demand.
“This is because upstream gas producers must be assured that they will receive fair and equitable returns for their investments whereas, the price must be such that the end-users are able to pay for gas offtake in a reliable and consistent manner.
“Accordingly, the most robust and sustainable pricing mechanism is that which ‘let the market speak’ in a way that all costs are reflective of prevailing market conditions and for which the economic dynamics of demand and supply are allowed to interplay in an open, transparent, and free market environment.
“Thus, our drive as a nation should be early attainment to the ‘willing buyer; willing seller’ market status.
“Any transitional pricing arrangements, today, must be structured to quickly give way for market-led pricing regime and conditions,” he said.
Auwalu commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, for their outstanding leadership in deepening gas utilisation in Nigeria.
He muted that these efforts had culminated in the establishment of the National Gas Expansion Programme, National Gas Transportation Network Code and the National Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme.
Others are the ongoing construction of the ELPS-II, OB3 and AKK pipelines as critical backbone gas infrastructure required to improve gas deliverability and availability.
He also stated that government was working towards the expeditious passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which would enhance clarity in legislative, regulatory, fiscal, and administrative frameworks in the industry.
“This bill, when passed into law, will eliminate the uncertainties and bottlenecks associated with gas development in Nigeria and accelerate the growth of the Nigerian gas market to a fully developed and matured status.
“Specifically, on gas matters, the PIB provides for the following: promotion of dedicated gas exploration and development, gas terms, fiscal separation of gas as a commodity.
“It will also enhance the domestic gas delivery obligation, tariffing structure & methodology, open access regimes and revised gas pricing framework, to mention but a few,” Auwalu said.
The DPR he assured would continue to be an enabler and an opportunity provider in the oil and gas industry.
“Our focus remains the effective implementation of all policies and strategic programmes of government in an efficient manner that optimises the value of our petroleum resources for all stakeholders, all in overriding national interest,” he declared.