•Assures Nigerians of safety of new autogas scheme
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The federal government has allayed fears of difficulties by operators interested in the fuel-to-gas conversion scheme for vehicles to run on autogas to access funds.
It urged them to take advantage of the provision of N250 billion through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to embrace the autogas scheme, an exercise to provide cheaper fuel to replace petrol.
Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Sarki Auwalu, in an interview in Abuja, said any Nigerian interested in investing in the downstream may approach the CBN through the commercial banks.
The DPR boss also doused rising concerns over the safety of the newly-introduced Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), saying the federal government is doing everything to ensure that the fuel will have the least or minimum capacity for the destructive explosion.
The CBN had introduced N250 billion stimulus package under a National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) in September to stimulate investment in the gas value chain and spur its use in transportation as an alternative to petrol-powered cars.
The initiative is to be implemented in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The government stated that the move will ensure improved access to finance for private sector investments in the domestic gas value chain.
It added that the fund will fast-track the adoption of CNG as the fuel of choice for transportation and power generation, as well as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for domestic cooking, transportation and captive power.
Those who are able to access the fund are expected to establish gas processing and small-scale petrochemical plants, gas cylinder manufacturing plants, CNG regasification modular systems as well as autogas conversion kits and components manufacturing plants.
Auwalu explained that the federal government has directed 9,000 filling stations to allow the use of their facilities for the operation of the scheme, stressing that the licences of defaulting stations will not be renewed.
He said: “These add-ons will have safety measures so that Nigerians can have maximum benefits from their God-given resources. And that is why out of 31,000 filling stations, we have identified and selected only 9,000 that are ready for it.
“We are not going to re-register or recertify them, but we are only going to issue an approval for the add-on to the existing facilities. And all they need to do is to add a mechanism that will fuel the autogas or LPG scheme as the case may be.
“We have given the 9,000 of them directives and that means that before they get their next licences renewed, they must file provision for the add-on. And if they are looking for investment, the federal government has already made available N250 billion for any interested company to access the funds through commercial banks.”
On fears over safety, the DPR director said there are programmes in place to curtail any excesses, adding that the regulatory agency will make sure that the right mix of autogas is available in the market.
He explained: “To achieve safety, we have developed a programme called QQIS (Quantity, Quality, Safety and Integrity). And so for safety, we have created a programme called the MISDO (Minimum Industry Safety for Downstream Operations).
“In that training, you can use your app and it is translated into several Nigerian languages to save people from danger. You can only achieve investment if you are alive and you know one life is more than an entire investment.
“For that, we emphasise on MISDO and for the quality because if the right mix is not there, there will be problems. For example, the autogas and LGP is a mix of propane and butane, so we want to ensure that the mix does not exceed the 40/60 ratio, which will lower the explosive limit and make it safe for the entire operators and the people.”