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By Libby George
ABUJA, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Nigeria has launched new regulations covering gas transportation which it hopes will expand use of the fuel and encourage private investment in pipelines, Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Sylva said on Monday.
Nigeria has rich gas reserves, but the sector has remained underdeveloped, overshadowed by the much larger crude oil industry.
It has declared 2020 the “year of gas” in the hopes that it can monetise gas resources that are still often burned at the well, a process known as “flaring” that environmentalists say creates a health hazard and contributes to global warming.
The latest move could allow for more connectivity within Nigeria’s often-fractured gas infrastructure, enforcing the right for third parties to access pipelines on regulated terms.
The new code will “drive gas commercialisation” and apply to all contracts between pipeline operators and users, said Sylva, speaking at the Nigerian International Petroleum Summit in Abuja.
The government hopes that will make the gas sector more appealing to investors, at a time when Nigeria has few funds to spare for pipeline infrastructure.
The goal is “open and competitive access to Nigeria’s gas infrastructure”, Sylva said, adding that all existing agreements with pipeline operators must migrate to the new framework within six months. (Reporting by Libby George; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Edmund Blair and Jan Harvey)