Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that he had planned to develop the nation’s natural gas for vehicles to use and reduce dependence on imported petrol before his regime expired.
According to him, he gave out licences to companies in a bid to achieve this, adding that by now, 50 per cent of the vehicles in the country should have been running on gas.
Obasanjo made this disclosure during a courtesy visit by the management of Nipco Plc to him at his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Recall that in 2006, the Obasanjo-led government gave out licences to three companies, Nipco Plc, Contact Global and Global Steel, for the development of Compressed Natural Gas for vehicles.
But it was gathered that only Nipco, which later went into a partnership with the Nigeria Gas Company to form Green Gas Limited, had invested significantly in the project since then.
While reacting to comments by the Managing Director, Nipco, Mr. Venkataraman Venkatapathy, Obasanjo said, “When I gave the licence in my time, the idea was to use what we had and by now, we could have put half of all the vehicles on gas.”
Venkatapathy had earlier said the replacement of petrol by the CNG would save Nigeria the much-needed foreign exchange on importation of petrol.
He said, “The CNG is a superior auto fuel alternative to liquid fuels mainly petrol and diesel, specifically for countries like Nigeria, which is blessed with abundant (over 186 trillion cubic feet) availability of natural gas that remains untapped.
“To replace 20 per cent of the current petrol consumption of Nigeria, natural gas required is less than five per cent of the total domestic gas consumed currently and less than one per cent of the current gas production. Foreign exchange saved will be close to $2bn.”
According to him, in Benin City, Edo State, over 4,000 vehicles run on the CNG which resulted in replacing 20 million litres of petrol from 2012 to 2015 and forex savings of over $9m.
A former Special Assistant on Petroleum Resources to President Obasanjo, Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim, who was on the Nipco team, said, “I was one of the team members when President Obasanjo was in office in 2006 that initiated the full concept of development of gas for vehicles and other applications in the country. It was during his regime that President Obasanjo awarded three licences to three companies to invest in the promotion and diffusion of Compressed Natural Gas for vehicular application in the country.
“But because of the capital-intensive and high-tech nature of the project, only one company today, after 10 years, has invested millions of dollars in the project such that the entire Benin City is encircled with a network of gas pipelines with about seven CNG gas stations providing the CNG to more than 4,000 vehicles.”
He said the company had constructed the largest CNG station on the African continent in Ibafo, Ogun State.