The Rise of Gas: From Gaslink to a Decade of Gas is a compelling narrative – Engr. Afolabi Oladele

...and magisterial account

This book; The Rise of Gas (from Gaslink to the Decade of Gas) by Engr. Charles A. Osezua gives a magisterial account of Nigeria’s entry into the comity of oil and gas producing nations beginning not from Oloibiri as many historians of the sector like to note but from the Dahomey Basin and then Akata close to Eket to the country’s chequered history of gas exploration, waste and utilisation.

Engr Osezua’s story began with what now seems like a prophetic utterance when Late Aret Adams ran into the younger man in Kaduna and called him “Gas Man”. Aret Adams was speaking in prophetic tones given Engr. Osezua’s pivotal role not only in policy formulation driving the development of Nigeria’s gas resources, but more as a serial entrepreneur who has invested in the entire spectrum of gas production and utilisation. For these reasons, the name Charles Osezua will be written in bright lights. In this book Osezua’s account begins in the 70s and runs its course up to 2023 when energy transition is making daily headlines.

On Monday July 31, 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) unveiled his economic plan to the nation in the wake of the removal of the oil subsidy. He declared in his speech that “We have made provision to invest N100 billion between now and March 2024 to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater CNG-fueled buses.”

What is CNG and what does it portend for the Nigerian gas industry and economy?

This book will provide you with the answers, narrating succinctly how the country could have been using CNG fueled vehicles almost four decades before President Tinubu’s pronouncement. It will also chronicle for you, in broad strokes the:

  • irony of a country constrained to import gas and deal with years and years of gas scarcity on account of flagrant flaring of gas; and
  • missed opportunities to harness the stranded gas due to several policy somersaults and reversals across many different administrations, the most painful of which Charles Osezua details in Chapter 4 of this riveting book. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s administration’s suspension of a federal government gazette put Nigeria’s gas industry and utilisation back several decades; and all this in spite of the evolution of a Gas Pricing Policy which was predicated on a comprehensive nine-month market survey conducted across all states of the federation, covering industrial clusters with clear data on the potential for gas utilization.

The book outlines the sad and disheartening story of the nation’s years of burning money that predated the Gas Master Plan.

It is also the story of a young man from “a small village in Ekpoma, with a father who was a farmer and a mother who was an energetic farm produce trader” who rose to the pinnacle of Nigeria’s gas industry and was not put down by the failures of national policy.

Driven by what he witnessed as a young man, the tongue of flame leaping into the air in Ughelli, he was inspired to pursue a course of study that would help address what looked an anomaly. He went on to study Natural Gas Engineering in the US.

On completion of his studies he joined the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) where he rose to become a champion, focused on the articulation of policies to monetise the country’s enormous gas resources starting with the elimination of gas flares and enhancing the terms for gas development.

Engineer Osezua was years ahead of his time as the nation is only now waking up to address the issues he raised regarding gas being the future revenue earner for the country. Many of his works are documented in articles and position papers. These gave him the moniker, Gas Man.

L-r – Charles Osezua, Gloria Osezua, Basil Omiyi,  Oluwakemi Olumuyiwa and Afolabi Oladele

He left NNPC and his entrepreneurial passion took him first to being part of the group that birthed the Lagos Business School and subsequently the creation of ground-breaking gas utilisation companies amongst which are great successes like Gaslink and Egbaoma Gas Processing plant.

Gaslink is discussed extensively in this book and its transformational impact on the seven industrial areas of Lagos provides proof of what could have been replicated on the national scale where Nigerian industries provided with reliable energy supply and feedstock would have produced a range of petrochemical products including fertilizers, ammonia, etc.

The book is funny in parts, tear inducing in others but at the end what emerges is a composite of what has kept Nigeria back for decades thanks to the short sightedness of our leaders and policy makers.

This book is a valuable knowledge base for everyone involved in the gas value chain, from students to oil industry workers, technocrats and policy makers as we proceed with our Energy Transition agenda.

As Chinua Achebe once wrote, “a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.” Engineer Charles Osezua in this book has shown us where the rain began to beat us and where and what we must do to begin to dry our body as a gas producing nation.

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