President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja on Friday to participate in the 5th Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.
According to the statement, apart from the Nigerian leader, the one-day meeting will be attended by leaders of major gas producing nations of the world.
The affected countries include Algeria, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Bolivia, Iran, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Norway.
Shehu said these countries accounted for 70 per cent and 80 per cent of global gas reserves and production respectively.
“The idea of the GECF was first mooted in 2001 when the First Ministerial Meeting held in Tehran, Iran, while the First GECF otherwise called Gas Summit, took place in Doha, Qatar in 2011 with Nigeria represented at the highest level.
“Indeed, President Buhari had attended the Third Gas Summit in Tehran in Nov. 2015.
“This Fifth Gas Summit in Malabo is the first time the biennial meeting will be hosted in Africa,’’ he added.
It would be recalled that on Nov. 19, President Buhari had received Mr Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima, the Special Envoy of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who brought a special invitation to the Nigerian leader to attend the 5th Gas Summit as well as thanking Nigeria for her support towards the hosting.
During that visit, the President had noted that, “Nigeria is more of a gas producing rather than oil producing country. That fact had long been established.
“If we had followed our plans laid out in the 1970s for the gas sector, we should have had 12 trains by early 1980s, instead of being on just six trains, of exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).’’
According to the presidential media aide, Nigeria is home to the largest proven natural gas reserves in Africa – over 202 trillion cubic feet (TCF) – and the ninth largest in the world.
Shehu stated that the Malabo Summit would provide a veritable platform for President Buhari to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the broad objectives of the GECF.
He said the GECF would among others, seek to “support the sovereign rights of Member Countries over their natural gas resources and their ability to independently plan and manage the sustainable, efficient and environmentally-conscious development, use and conservation of natural gas resources for the benefit of their people.”
He added that the Nigerian delegation would also use the opportunity to discuss current trends in the global gas market, potential policies for the energy sector and opportunities for collaboration.
“At the end of the 5th Gas Summit, the Malabo Declaration is expected to be adopted,’’ he said.
Shehu revealed that President Buhari would be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari.
“After the Summit, President Buhari will head for Daura, Katsina State on a five-day official visit,’’ Shehu further disclosed.