Nigeria’s crude oil reserves will run out in 49 years, according to the country’s Department of Petroleum Resources.
The reserves, which stood at 37.45 billion barrels in 2014, fell to 37.06 billion barrels in 2015 and 36.74 billion barrels in 2016. It however, rose to 36.97 billion barrels in 2017 and 37 billion barrels in 2018.
“The nation’s depletion rate and life index are 2.04 per cent and 49.03 years respectively,” DPR data shows.
Despite the grim reality facing the sub-Saharan country, there are no real efforts on the ground to shift to sustainable alternatives.
In January 2020, Nigeria’s junior minister for petroleum said in Davos, Switzerland, that “Climate change is not really a big issue for us”.
This is despite a statement by the Nigerian Government in September 2016 saying that the country was committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions unconditionally by 20 per cent and conditionally by 45 per cent “in line with Nigeria’s nationally determined contributions.”
The country was also among the 187 that ratified the Paris Agreement, a United Nations-backed framework on climate change.
Back home, Nigeria is shopping for more oil. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in 2019 said it discovered hydrocarbon deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the North-Eastern part of the country.
The NNPC said it acquired 435.54km2 of 3D Seismic Data over Kolmani Prospect in the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin.
“The well was drilled with “IKENGA RIG 101” to a total depth of 13,701 feet encountering oil and gas in several levels.
Nigeria’s first oil discovery has led to environmental degradation, health challenges for locals in host communities and even civil unrest. So, why is Nigeria choosing to ignore cleaner alternatives in preparation for its future?
“The corruption in Nigeria is so great that those who oversee its affairs do not see beyond the money that oil churns. They are not concerned about the future of anyone and this is why I advocate for young people to speak up and pioneer alternative conversations for Nigeria’s future,” says Tamuno Philips, a community organiser in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
He believes young people, who make up about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s 200 million population hold the key to Nigeria’s diversification. But do they?
Irawo Ade is a 27 year-old postgraduate student in Lagos. She says the current crop of politicians must not abandon the responsibility of a sustainable future on the next generation; advising for a “now” approach to the matter.
She said, “It’s funny that anyone thinks my generation will diversify Nigeria from fossil fuel. There are no programmes to show us the agreements being signed with nations, we have no idea the exact revenue from crude oil, so how do we know what is available to invest in alternative? We need action now, it’s not a matter of young or old people.”
A viable option for diversification, according to a study by Evbuomwan Grace, an Agricultural Economist, can happen in the agricultural and solid mineral sectors in view of Nigeria’s resource endowment. She opines that Nigeria has a large expanse of agricultural land. This constitutes 77.7 per cent of Nigeria’s total land area which is 910.8 thousand square kilometres. Of this total, 37.3 per cent is arable land.
Whichever option Nigeria seeks in creating a future for itself, it is important that the decision happens soon in order for the country to break loose from the problems inherent in a monotype-economy largely dominated by oil such as depletion, international price shocks, mass unemployment, lack of innovation and poverty.
This article was written with the support of Climatetracker.org as part of the 2019 Climate Tracker Data Journalism Fellowship