Ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s gas sector will make the West African country a regional hub for petrochemical and fertilizer production by 2017, according to Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC) Group Executive Director David Ige.

During an acceptance speech at the Oil and Gas Yearbook’s Man of the Year Award ceremony, Ige said that Nigeria is well on its well to achieving gas export parity, which would encourage greater private sector investment in gas exploration and production.

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“All that we need to make Nigeria a regional hub of petrochemical and fertilizer is in place, and by 2017 Nigeria clearly will become the regional hub of gas in Africa,” said Ige as quoted by Ventures Africa.

Ige noted that domestic gas usage has been increasing and that the nationwide Gas Infrastructure Development program has made the transport of natural gas easier.

He also commended Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for taking measures to resolve the country’s power crisis, citing as an example the Ajaokuta-Kano-Kaduna gas line, which will supply gas to the northern part of the country for power generation.

In other news, oil giant BP says it will invest 5.5 billion rand (nearly $600 million) over the next five years to improve oil refining and storage at its operations in South Africa and Mozambique, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Group CEO of refining and marketing, Iain Conn, said BP Southern Africa will spend 4.7 billion rand in South Africa, including 2.5 billion rand to upgrade the Sapref refinery in Durban, which BP co-owns with Shell. Another 800 million rand will be used to refurbish infrastructure in Mozambique.

The investment also includes the opening of 120 retail stores across Africa in the next five years, African Business Review reported.

According to Conn, the infrastructure upgrades will help BP comply with South Africa’s proposed clean fuels requirements. “This is part of our on-going efforts to be a good corporate citizen as we pursue our business objectives in all the markets in which we operate,” Conn said.