Gas Expansion and the Energy Transition in Nigeria and the Niger Delta

This research analyses the possible impacts for Nigeria and the Niger Delta if it continues down the path of increasing gas production. The analysis aims to highlight Nigeria’s position within the current global gas situation. It covers Nigeria’s plans to increase international exports and domestic consumption, while meeting emissions and sustainable development targets. This highlights important risks associated with the short-term demand from Europe, borrowing to pay for infrastructure that may become stranded in a net zero economy, and tackling existing barriers to production in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. The research includes a case study of communities living in the shadow of an existing gas facility. It is an example of the current state of the gas industry’s infrastructure, and its impacts on host communities, which highlights the risks of further expansion. We documented issues with the standard of facilities, response to leaks, community relations, and severe impacts to health, economy, and environment.

Key Points

  • African gas resources, including Nigeria’s, are widely touted as a potential replacement to Russia’s, as the European Union and others are looking for immediate alternatives since the war in Ukraine started.
  •  Partial increases to Nigeria’s gas capacity are expected over the next few years. But further expansion will require billions of dollars of investment, and could take decades to come online, by which point global demand will be in decline, as it is predicted to peak by 2040, and possibly earlier.
  •  Expansion could still benefit Nigeria, as it is seeking to increase domestic gas consumption as part of development targets and as a transition fuel. But it risks redirecting resources away from more sustainable infrastructure, delaying the clean energy transition, and deepening dependence on fossil fuels, which could result in stranded assets and debt that will be difficult to repay as demand and prices fluctuate.
  • At the local level, there are significant risks if oil companies continue to operate without due care, under the current system of weak enforcement of Federal regulations for pollution and host community development. Our research contains reports of negative health and economic impacts for communities living near gas infrastructure, and with expansion, communities near gas facilities are likely to experience more negative impacts due to exposure to gas and other hazardous wastes, compounding decades of oil pollution.

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