FG Gets Report on Gas Affordability, May Slash Prices

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By Emmanuel Addeh

The federal government may review downward the prohibitive prices of gas in the country, following the submission of a report to that effect by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in Abuja.

Despite the government’s much-touted focus on gas as a cleaner source of energy, especially to discourage the use firewood by Nigerians, there have been complaints about the high prices of the product which currently range between N5,000 and N5,500 for a 12-kilogramme container of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

In June last year, the government set up a committee to recommend an appropriate pricing framework for the strategic sectors of Nigeria’s domestic market, including for retail and industrial uses.

While receiving the report at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, said that the purpose of the entire report was to reduce the price of gas in order to liberalise the sector for more stakeholders to get involved.

He opined that this would enable the sector to grow and attract more investment with accelerated development in the entire gas value chain and reaffirmed that Nigeria has abundant gas resources in its reserves with a total of 203 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves and 600 TCF of possible reserves.

A statement by the Deputy Director of Information at the ministry, Bob-Manuel Enefaa, quoted the minister as emphasising that revising the prices would give Nigerians more options, whether for domestic uses or otherwise, stressing that some persons could decide to opt for auto-gas, for instance instead of petrol.

Sylva added that gas-based industries would continue to dominate and determine the sustainability of the economy at large, noting that gas remains the next big thing in the country.

The committee was earlier saddled with the responsibility of evaluating and reviewing the price of gas in the country.
“Without appropriate pricing, we can’t get it right. We have to ensure that gas becomes affordable. It is sad to note that we sell gas cheaply to investors while the price is high in the domestic market to the extent that some Nigerians say diesel is cheaper than gas,” he had said earlier.

Sylva opined that Nigeria has a lot of gas deposit, and that once the country is able to solve its gas problems, it would surmount a lot of its current challenges.

Addressing members of the committee, the minister said the body was deliberately enlarged and structured to accommodate people with diverse opinions, dedication and commitment.

The terms of reference of the committee included the review of domestic gas price and benchmark, recommendations for appropriate gas price for the respective gas sectors and to make evaluations, and technical suggestions on how to grow the sector.

Chairman of the committee Mr. Yusuf Usman, Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, NNPC, while speaking, said the committee evaluated the price of gas in line with global standards.

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Mr. Bitrus Nabasu, expressed optimism that with the report now ready, and with the expected implementation, it will enhance Nigeria’s economic development and sustainability.

“We are delighted to have a final report which documents recommendations based on problems we are much familiar with in the Nigerian domestic gas market.

“The pricing must be cost reflective, non-discriminatory, realistic and market determined. Cheap gas which Nigeria boasts to have in abundance remains our only nexus to economic sustainability,” he stated.