Shell Nigeria Plc is seeking to expand its investment in Nigeria’s domestic energy market around natural gas, with a view to reducing oil-related environmental hazards, theft, and creating jobs.

The Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Gas, Ed Ubong, disclosed in an interview on Wednesday that the company was working out plans for divestment in gas, targeting some local industrial clusters in the country.

He said Nigeria’s gas production was rising but that boosting domestic demand remained challenging, but that Shell has done the groundwork to set up a gas-based system that would transform Nigeria’s population of almost 200 million people into a new market.

According to him, one of the basic requirements that come to the mind of a prospective investor is how to power an industrial plant and sustain production without hitches, adding that Nigeria has been denied many business opportunities due to poor generation of power.

He asked: “Imagine if you had $100 million, would you be convinced to set up a factory in Nigeria? The first thought companies have is: Do I have power?”

Nigeria’s gas reserves are, according to data provided by BP Plc, the largest in Africa at 5.2 trillion cubic metres.

Meanwhile, the report indicates that the country consumed a minute of 20 billion cubic metres; that’s about 706.3 billion cubic feet of gas in 2016.

But what is more striking about the report is that the said 20 billion cubic metres of gas consumed in Nigeria at the time, is just a quarter of UK’s 81 billion cubic metres of gas consumed same year with just one-third of Nigeria’s population.

Efforts have been made, however, to explore the sector but with little results. Ubong believes that Shell is committed to expanding its investment in gas such that would contribute to the nation’s economy in no-small measure.

To achieve this, the company intends to expand the infrastructure needed to reach more gas customers by first focusing on “industrial clusters.” It hopes to persuade foreign companies to build a concentration of factories that employ hundreds of people.

“Foreign companies are calling me,” said Ubong. “That’s how I know the demand is there.”

“Would a private investor be able to sit down for ten years just watching, racking up his losses? Maybe no, but we know what our commitment is to Nigeria to support it as it tries to industrialize,” said Ubong.