Leading indigenous energy company, Seplat Energy Plc was yesterday praised by the Federal Government and other oil and gas industry players for leading the charge to reduce Nigeria’s carbon count with an initiative to plant five million trees in the next five years.

The initiative, known as the ‘Seplat Tree for Life’ will kick off in five states: Edo, Delta, Imo and two northern states.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Abuja, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva said Seplat Energy has proven over time to be one of the most responsible operators in the industry.

Chief Sylva said Nigeria is on course to achieve President Muhammadu Buhari’s net zero carbon emission by 2060 with the implementation of the Decade of Gas policy.

According to him, the initiative by Seplat is “in line with Mr. President’s commitment on net-zero carbon emissions by 2060.  This requires initiatives such as this being undertaken by Seplat today, as well as sustained financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity building from international partners willing and able to assist us in this regard.

“Nigeria still requires fossil fuels, especially gas, as its base load energy source to address energy poverty and power supply.  We have declared gas as our transition fuel, our pathway to net-zero carbon emission.  This presents investment opportunities given the oil and gas reserves which can be commercialized”.

On her part, the Minister of State Environment, Sharon Ikeazor who praised Seplat for the initiative, said climate change has become one of the biggest challenges facing the present generation.

Also speaking, the Chairman of NNPC Limited board, Senator Margret Okadigbo said as one of the major contributors of greenhouse gases, the oil and gas industry must also be at the forefront of addressing issues of climate change.

According to her, “Tree planting is a simple and effective way to help reduce the impact of carbon emissions and restore much of the ecosystem. There is also social benefit of this initiative by Seplat,  women and youth engagement for instance is an alignment with the UN SDGs and will break the circle of poverty and restiveness in our communities and provision of food security”.

Earlier, the Chairman of Seplat Energy, Dr Ambrose Orjiako said the company was determined to ensure that its carbon count continues to reduce, as its shift focus to cleaner energy.

He noted that while the company would continue to ensure access to energy in a sustainable manner, protecting the environment was also critical part of its operation

Dr. Orjiako pointed out that while it was important for the country to join the energy transition initiative, such transition must be fair and just taking into consideration the huge energy gap that exists in the country.

“The real message we are giving is that net zero carbon is not net zero fossil fuel. This is because there is a huge energy crisis in the world today and for developing countries, energy poverty. What we need is a way of solving the problem without damaging the environment”, he explained.

Giving details of the tree planting initiatives, Seplat Energy CEO, Mr. Roger Brown said: “The Seplat Energy Tree for Life initiative is essentially a commitment by SEPLAT to embark on an ambitious endeavor to plant five million trees in five years, starting with the five states of Edo, Delta, Imo and two Northern states.

“In addition, we plan to curate a scalable, strategic, and innovative Tree planting and Carbon Sequestration programme working with reputable partners to provide food security, reduce biodiversity loss, and support the net-zero agenda.

“We will deliberately engage women, youth and communities for sustainable food production and a sustainable environment through tree planting in their communities and mindset change.

“We have adopted a two-prong approach: To advocate for Tree Planting and Protection to instill the consciousness of the importance of tree planting and the responsibility of citizens to ensure its success.

“Plant Trees – run Afforestation/Restoration Programmes with a commitment to plant one million trees annually, comprising majorly economic trees”.