Plans are underway and come Q4 of 2020, vehicles and generator engines would begin using autogas as fuel instead of petrol in Nigeria, writes OLATUNDE R. OMISOLA.
The Federal Government of Nigeria is determined and bent on promoting both domestic and industrial gas utilisation in the country to reduce the hitherto total dependence on premium motor spirit (PMS) commonly called petrol especially in the transportation sector.
Towards this end, plans are on and come Q4 of 2020, vehicles and generator engines would use autogas as fuel instead of petrol.
Pilot schemes have been carried out in parts of Edo and Rivers States, south south of the country, with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, ordering chief executives of departments and agencies under his Ministry to convert all their official vehicles to run on autogas as about 1 million conversion kits are on ground and Nigerian President, Mohammadu Buhari, is expected to roll off the project in October, 2020.
Nigeria is blessed with an abundant gas reserve (about 22million cubic tonnes) majority of which is flared.
Auto gas unlike petroleum is a clean fuel that does not pollute, it reduces carbondioxide (CO2) emission thereby aiding the global campaign against climate change and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Economically, gas is cheaper than petroleum and could be come as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) or Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) which differs only by their properties; LPG is propane gas while CNG and LNG are naturally existing oxygen.
The recent deregulation of the oil sector and the resultant increment in petrol pump price in Nigeria makes it wise to seek alternative fuels and auto gas is cheaper, more reliable and stable in supply.
Motor vehicles and generators could be powered by both gas and petrol/diesel, the conversion takes between 6-7 hours with the addition of a switch, gas tank and multiple valves to connect the engine. Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) mega stations nationwide are being upgraded and equipped to do the conversion with the hope that other petrol stations would join in.
The gas tanks are made of either mild steel or carbon steel that are ten times more reinforced than petrol tanks and are fabricated to meet the international standard codes of the American Society of Chemical Engineers (ASCEC), they could come in different shapes amd sizes and could be placed under the back seat, in the booth or where spare tyres are kept in the vehicle.
A vehicle running on auto gas is less expensive to run, as gas, a clean fuel, does not block engines or cause wear and tear, thereby reducing maintenance cost and it is cheaper.
The Programme Manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) and Programme Manager, Autogas, Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) Justice Derefaka opined the use of autogas would reduce pollution, the damaging environmental effect of carbon from petrol and also generate employment for Nigerians as several people would be trained and employed to do the conversion.
Derefaka stated that the NGEP Committee is engaging large fleet owners, Nigerian Governors Forum, Local Government Councils, conversion companies, and dispensing facility owners to collaborate in the conversion and establishment of refuelling facilities nationwide to leverage already existing pipelines and mother stations and ease the cost burden of conversion, which is a major impediment to auto gas development.
However, lack of state of the art conversion centres, cost of conversion, put at between N190,000-250,000 (US$492-648) depending on the vehicle and no gas dispensing facilities are some issues militating against the success of the programme.
There is also a need for government to aggressively provide and ensure the availability of auto gas cylinders, carburettors and other equipment in the market to make it available and affordable to vehicle owners.
* Omisola is on the staff of Cyber Era.