Chineme Okafor in Abuja
A Nigerian petroleum engineer carrying out research work as a ‘Sloan Fellow’ in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mr. Onyeizu Chinedu has developed an online real-time application that can identify filling stations or oil marketers that hoard petroleum products.
The application can also help the government track and apprehend instances of products diversion, which is the greatest challenge in managing distribution of petrol in Nigeria.
According to the MIT, the Sloan fellowship seeks to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. The two-year fellowship is awarded yearly to 126 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their fields.
According to Onyeizu, the application, Petrol-Solve 1.3 will also disclose to Nigerians, all the filling stations in the country that procured products from officially-captured supply sources in the country and should be open for business.
He stated that through this, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other agencies of government could undertake their regulatory tasks with scientific precision.
Onyeizu said the application was part of a 3-node model he developed to help the country overcome her present challenges of petrol scarcity which had lasted for long in recent months.
He made this disclosure to reporters recently at a press briefing in Abuja. He explained that the 3-node models would include the unbundling of Nigeria’s downstream oil and gas sector into three strategic nodes of downstream-upstream; downstream-midstream; and downstream-downstream.
He said the nodes model would be policy-based and an enabler to having products available in filling stations from which the government and citizens can monitor products movements and stock availability.
Onyeizu also noted that his application was completely different from the ‘Project Aquilla’ which the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) uses to track the movements of trucks bearing petrol from loading to discharge points, and upon which bridging claims were paid to the truckers.
“First, the 3-node model I have developed focuses on leveraging the existing JV and independent partnership agreements that the government has to make refined products available and affordable to Nigerian consumers.
“The strategy will require unbundling of the downstream sector into three strategic nodes. The three nodes model is policy based and its critical enablers include locating new refineries at operational bases of oil producing firms, as well as aligning with oil producers to allocate a reasonable quota of crude as constant feed to the refineries,” said Onyeizu.
He further said: “The model has a technology application, Petrol-Solve 1.3 will help capture and transform in context data into actionable insights. It will tell you where fuel is available and the volume and allow the government to make decisions on supply management.”
“We are using this technology to introduce real-time monitoring of fuel volumes and for product distribution network management from point of vessel loading to end point,” he added.
“The 3-node model approach to solving the fuel crisis in Nigeria will leverage system and predictive analytics to improve management of petrol refining and distribution across the country. It will help the government curb diversion and hoarding which it currently said was its greatest challenges,” he said.