How Obasanjo tried (but failed) to put ‘half of Nigeria’s vehicles on gas’

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday, revealed that his administration intended to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on petrol by developing the country’s natural gas for vehicles to use.

The former President stated this when he was paid a courtesy visit by the management of Nipco Plc at his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Obasanjo said his government had already began to give out licences to companies to work towards reducing dependence on imported petrol, noting that if the initiative had taken off, more than 50 percent of vehicles in Nigeria will be running on gas.

The Obasanjo administration had in 2006 began the process of licencing three companies for the development of Compressed Natural Gas for vehicles. The companies include: Nipco Plc, Contact Global and Global Steel.

Speaking on the statement made by Obasanjo, the Managing Director, Nipco, Venkataraman Venkatapathy, 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 added that “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.”

On his part, a former Special Assistant on Petroleum Resources to Obasanjo, Muhammed Ibrahim, who was also a part of the Nipco delegation, 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.”

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