Oil barrels are pictured at the site of Canadian group Vermilion Energy in Parentis-en-Born, France, October 13, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

HOUSTON, March 9 (Reuters) – Developing countries should not have to target renewable energy sources and turn away from fossil fuels, Nigerian energy officials said on Tuesday, joining other emerging oil-producing nations reluctant to embrace the global energy transition trend.

Some 900 million people in the world, most of them in Africa, still have no access to energy for basic needs, Nigeria’s oil Minister Timipre Marlin Sylva said on Tuesday, speaking during the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

“We are still in transition from firewood to gas,” Sylva said. “Please allow us to continue with our own transition.”

Other countries with oil discoveries still in development, including Ghana, Guyana and Suriname, also have said they cannot be expected to give up the chance to benefit from oil and gas that helped build more developed economies.

“They want all of us, including those of us without food, to carry the burden of transition,” Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) general manager Bala Wunti said, speaking at CERAWeek.

Nigeria is now facing a double blow from high prices of gas for cooking that it imports and lack of investment in its oil industry, minister Sylva said, amid a global push by banks and funds to restrict investment in oil as part of a drive to boost environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).

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Nigeria in the past years was forced to cut oil production from 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 1.5 million bpd due to lack of financing to maintain its facilities, Sylva said.


The lost production could have helped contribute to global supply as the world now looks for alternatives to Russian oil after buyers halted purchases over its invasion of Ukraine, he said. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

Investors backing renewable fuels have cut financing for oil projects, reducing production of oil, gas and coal at a faster rate than renewable sources of energy could replace them, pushing prices up, he said.

“It was expected we were going to arrive at this point where we have an energy crisis,” Sylva said. “There is a gap.”

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)