By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Dec. 1, 2020 President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled the Natural Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) and Auto-gas initiative with a call on Nigerians to embrace the use of gas as an alternative to Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Speaking at a virtually held event at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday to unveil National Gas Expansion Programme and National Auto-gas Roll-out Initiative, Buhari said the call had become imperative in view of the nation’s huge gas reserve.
“It is no longer news that the vast natural gas resources, which Nigeria is endowed with has hitherto been used sub-optimally as a result of a dearth of gas processing facilities and infrastructural connectivity for effective and optimal domestic utilisation.
“As I mentioned above with a proven reserve of about 203 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) and additional upside of 600 TCF ranking Nigeria as the 9th in the world currently, the need for domestic gas expansion and utilisation is apparent.’’
The president said that the deregulation of the downstream sector had exposed many to price volatilities in the global market, urging attention to more affordable alternative for energy, especially with Nigeria’s heavy reserve.
“Therefore, the roll-out of the National Gas Expansion Programme, Auto-gas initiative is coming at the right time, especially in light of global crude oil market fluctuations coupled with the full deregulation of the local PMS market.
“These developments have made it imperative to focus on gas as an alternative fuel to move Nigeria from the conventional dependence on white products for autos and prime-movers of industrial applications to cleaner, more available, accessible and affordable energy source.
“The outcome will not only cushion the effect of the downstream deregulation that this government has to painfully implement but also create new markets and enormous job opportunities for our people,’’ he said.
Buhari expressed optimism that the auto-gas initiative would lead to increased domestic gas utilisation and enrich the trajectory of national economic growth and development.
“I therefore encourage everyone to embrace gas in form of LPG, CNG and LNG as an alternative fuel for autos and other prime-movers,’’ he said.
Naija247news reports that the president used the opportunity to appreciate Nigerians and organised labour for restraint, understanding and patience as the country tackles myriad economic challenges.
He assured that the Federal Government was working hard to ameliorate the situation and directed the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to commence the process of hand over of mass transit buses to organised labour as part of government’s pledge to cushion the negative effects of deregulation of the oil sector.
“Let me now express my deep appreciation to Nigerians for their patience and organised labour for its maturity and patriotism as we collectively navigate these global economic and other challenges.
“The Minister of State Petroleum Resources is hereby directed to commence the process of hand over of mass transit buses to Organized Labour as part of our government’s pledge to continue providing support that will ease the transportation challenges Nigerians are facing at this time,’’ he added.
Earlier in his remarks, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva said the ministry was focusing on development of skills, technology and manpower as well as growth in the utilisation of LPG, CNG and LNG.
He said that the NGEP, which was initiated this year to boost the utilisation of gas in the short and medium term “is expected to create two million jobs per annum, promote skills acquisition and enhance technology transfer in addition to growing the nation’s GDP.”
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari revealed that from 2016 to 2019, the Federal Government had spent over N3 trillion subsidising the pump price of petroleum products particularly PMS.
The NNPC boss insisted that the subsidy regime did not benefit the masses that the president was passionate about, adding that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had made it impossible to continue with the onerous subsidy regime.