The oil and gas industry is “not-yet replaceable” as a reliable energy provider but it must harness technological advancements to hold off the challenge from renewable energy sources, according to Nigerian ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo.

“The present challenges, particularly of renewable resources coming in and eating gradually but steadily into the areas where oil and gas have been predominant, I believe should not really worry us too much,” the former head of state said at the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“For me, I believe for the foreseeable future there will be no renewable energy that will be as potent as oil and gas – and I think that is something that we can take as the advantage of oil and gas, that we see it being there for the foreseeable future.

“The fear that oil will be a thing of the past in the next 10 or 15 years may not be the way that things go.”

Obasanjo said the industry is beset by a series of fundamental challenges – of adequate investment, infrastructure constraints, security, local content and regulation – that will require a collaborative approach from oil and gas companies and producer states to overcome.

“These challenges are not challenges that only one country can deal with. Of course, they are national and regional challenges, but they are also oil and gas industry challenges, which we have to deal with,” he said.

“I see in the immediate future collaboration at the national level, at the regional level, at the industrial level, and of course at the global level.”

The industry must harness the power of technological advancements – digitalisation of the oilfield, artificial intelligence, to name but a few – to drive down the cost of production in order to keep oil and gas competitive against other forms of energy.

“If we can surmount this challenge, then the future of oil and gas cannot be predicted by anybody except us, who are actually the producers and investors in this very important and not-yet replaceable energy source for humanity.”