The European Union is seeking additional gas supplies from Nigeria as the bloc braces for possible Russian supply cuts, Matthew Baldwin, deputy director general of the European Commission’s energy department, said on Saturday.
Baldwin was speaking in Nigeria, where he had meetings with officials from Africa’s biggest oil producer this week.
He was told that Nigeria was improving security in the Niger Delta and was planning to reopen the Trans Niger pipeline after August, which would yield more gas exports to Europe.
The EU imports 14% of its total LNG supplies from Nigeria and there is potential to more than double that, Baldwin told Reuters by phone.
Oil and gas production in Nigeria is being strangled by pipeline theft and vandalism, leaving gas producer Nigeria LNG Ltd’s Bonny Island terminal operating at 60% capacity.
“If we can get beyond 80% at that point, there may be additional LNG available for point loads arriving in Europe,” Baldwin said.
“They (Nigerian officials) told us, ‘Come and talk to us again at the end of August because we think we can make real progress on this’.”
Nigeria NLG is owned by state oil company NNPC Ltd, Shell, TotalEnergies and Eni.
The European Commission said on Wednesday that EU member states must reduce their gas usage by 15% from August to March. The target would initially be voluntary, but would become mandatory if the Commission declared an emergency.
Last year, Nigeria exported 23 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to the EU, but the number has been decreasing over the years. In 2018, the block purchased 36 bcm of LNG from Nigeria, Baldwin said.