Stakeholders in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) sector have blamed shortage of gas cylinders for the poor consumption of cooking gas in Nigeria.
They stress that cooking gas is seen as the only viable alternative to kerosene as cooking fuel, but its consumption rate is very low relative to the country's population.
Speaking in Lagos ahead of a conference on gas cylinder, titled "Cylinder and the Future of LPG in Nigeria Economy'' National President, Nigerian Association of LPG Marketers (NALPGAM), Mr. Basil Ogbuanu, said that except the Federal Government intervenes and ensure that gas cylinders are
available and affordable to Nigerians, the consumption level may continue to drop while kerosene also remains unavailable to the masses.
"we all know that you can use gallons to buy kerosene, but you need cylinders to buy cooking gas. These cylinders are not enough in the country.
"The companies producing cylinders locally have all folded up due to unfavourable government policy and inadequate power supply. Now, we import all cylinders that are being used in the country. A standard cylinder of 12.5kg will cost about N8500 in the market which an average Nigerians cannot afford.
"Instead of the Federal Government reducing the import duties payable on imported cylinders, it rather increased it from five per cent to 20 per cent."
On the issue of pricing, Ogbuanu also appealed to the Federal Government to intervene and ensure that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) supplies cooking gas at domestic rate rather than thecurrent international price at which the company is selling to domestic consumers.
"The issue of domestic pricing is another factor militating against increasing consumption pattern of cooking gas in Nigeria. Although, we recorded an increase in consumption rate last year. This is because Nigerians consumed 170000 metric tonnes of cooking gas as at December, 2013.
"This is an improvement from the previous less than 150000 metric tonnes consumption figure. This has prompted the NLNG to increase supplies from 150000 to 250000 metric tonnes per annum. Before, theproduct was inadequately supplied but now the product is available and not affordable," he noted.
Ogbuanu said: "it is becoming clear that subsidy payment on kerosene is not sustainable. If the Federal Government can use only 20 per cent of what it is using on kerosene to support cooking gas consumption, it will deepen the market."
Also speaking chairman, Conference Organising Committee, Gbenga Falusi, said the conference is organised to sensitize stakeholders that government's sincere commitment to LPG consumption is highly required and not debatable.
"LPG will boost GDP, provide employment and create friendly environment without emissions. We commend NLNG for its timely intervention in LPG supplies, but we want the company to fastrack its
West African gas price index it is developing," he said.