Shale Gas: Reps Summon MDAs Over Dwindling Oil Reserve

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The House of Representatives Thursday directed its committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream), National Planning and Finance to investigate the dwindling oil revenues as a result of the surge in shale gas production.

The House expressed worry that Nigeria’s crude oil market was under threat following the discovery of shale gas in the west, mandating the joint committees to summon the relevant government ministries and agencies to find a strategic economic response, especially through diversifying the economy.

Shale gas which is an alternative energy source is already under exploration in Canada, US and China in commercial quantity, it involves a process through hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which is a process of forcing water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into underground rocks which allows for recovery of gas in commercial quantity.

Hon. Ben Nwankwo (PDP, Anambra), who led debate on the motion noted that with this development, the United States, and other major consumers of oil and gas would have a negative impact on the economy since it would make them self-reliant on oil.

“The widespread use of this process to produce oil and gas has led to a significant reduction in prices of domestic gas in the US, and there could be similar effects on energy consumption in other parts of the world as countries, such as South Africa, China and the United Kingdom are on the verge of further exploring the benefits of this mode of oil and energy production,” Nwankwo argued.

He said, fracking has made it possible for the US to produce large volumes of shale gas as a source of energy and this is impacting on the U.S.’ crude oil import from Nigeria.

“Information from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. Government Agency on energy statistics, indicates that the country’s import data for the first half of 2013 showed that Nigerian crude is down to 5% share of U.S. total crude oil imports, which is because the US production of natural gas from shale formations is increasingly providing an alternative source of energy for the country.”

Hon. Nassir Ali Ahmed (APC, Kano) said: “It is important that Nigeria should diversify its economy and not be dependent on crude oil solely. We can explore more alternative energy resource such as the shale oil fracking, solar and wind energy.

“Besides the highest consumers of these oil and gas products are motor cars, and today we have electric powered cars in some parts of the world. Therefore the National Planning Commission (NPC) should create a pathway to realizing our march towards a diversified economy,” he added.