The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) says oil and gas sector must shift from being a consumer industry to an enabler of economic diversification for Nigeria to remain competitive and relevant globally.

Mr Chikezie Nwosu, the Chairman of Nigeria Council of Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), made this assertion on Sunday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

Nwosu said that this was the right time to effectively take advantage of the oil and gas industry to drive other sectors of the economy, such as gas.

“To remain competitive and relevant in the global economy, the position of the oil and gas industry as the bedrock of the Nigerian economy requires a paradigm shift from a consumer product to an enabler for diversifying the economy.

“Manufacturing, agro-allied, alternative and renewable energy, banking, ICT, public health, among others, can be facilitated to full maturity and self sustainability,’’ he said.

Nwosu said that the energy sector remained pivotal in shaping economic development globally, especially for Nigeria whose bulk of export earnings was derived from crude oil.

He told NAN that it had become imperative for government to develop other sub-sectors to grow the economy.

According to him, in the next half-century or less, the place of oil and gas in the global market may no longer be favourable for “such an undiversified economy as ours’’.

“It would be better if government begins to develop other sectors that will boost the economy because the oil and gas sector is fast losing its relevance given the realities of today’s market place.

“An economy like Nigeria that depends largely on this sector is taking an uncalculated risk as the end might be catastrophic,’’ he said.

The SPE chairman said it was imperative that the Federal Government diversified the country’s oil-dependent economy to secure a desired future.