Although its awareness is very low in the country, thousands of Nigerian motorists have begin to embrace uses of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as fuel in their vehicles.
With the recent severe fuel sacristy in many part of the country, attention is now shifting to CNG as alternative to Premium Motors Spirit (PMS) otherwise called fuel.
CNG for vehicular use was introduced into Nigeria by NGC (Nigeria Gas Company) in 1989, with two small compressors and dispensers
installed in Warri and Lagos and 25 vehicles converted to run on natural gas.
The project was noted to be a
"success" with the only downside, being the unavailability of CNG refueling stations in the county.
Today, the Nigerian Independent Petroleum Company (NIPCO) Plc, an indigenous downstream petroleum and gas operator, noted that over 5,000 vehicles currently uses Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as fuel in Nigeria.
A commercial motor driver, plying Lagos/Ibadan expressway Ibrahim Kareem told newsmen that the conversion of his vehicle to CNG early 2015 had saved him money, describing CNG powered vehicles as economical, safer, flexible and eco-friendly.
"I converted my bus to gas early this year and I am happy to tell you that I saved up to N7,500 daily on my fuel consumption.
"Before now I spent N6,000 to travel to Ibadan from Lagos but now with just N3,750, I will travel to Ibadan and come back with ease," he said.
According to Sunday Adeyemi, "most of the commercial vehicles operating between Lagos and Ibadan had converted to CNG because of its availability and the economy of scale.
"Most of us here have converted our motors to CNG because of the installment payment created by the company.
"They are aware that we cannot run away once you got converted.
"What we would have used on petroleum is being used to balance our debt; by next month, I would have completed my debt," he said.
Adeyemi said that he used the availability of CNG in his vehicles during the petrol scarcity to make more money.
"When others did not get petroleum for transportation during the fuel scarcity, I was busy making money because gas was available and cheap," he said.
For Daniel Folorunsho, a civil servant who got introduced to CNG by his friend, said that CNG was Eco-friendly and management friendly.
"Before my friend introduced me to CNG, I serviced my car every three months but now, I service it once in six months because of its Eco-friendly nature.
"It is clean and there will be no smoke coming from your motor.
"The government should enlighten road users on the advantages of CNG because it is better than petrol and it is economical and safer.
"Even the subsidy government is paying on petroleum products will reduce if more emphasis is placed on CNG usage," he said.
Getting a vehicle converted from PMS to CNG at the Ibafor CNG refilling station cost an initial deposits of about N20,000 with the balance deducted through daily purchase of gas.
An official at the station said ``When you want to convert your motor to gas, you will pay as low as N20,000, then we will put you on installment payment anytime you come to fill your cylinder.
"This method makes it convenient for our customers to pay within some months depending on your usage.
``A cubic feet of gas cost N55, if you are on our debt list, you will be paying N80 per cubic feet which means that remaining N25 will be servicing your debt.
"This will continue until you complete the payment.
"Because of this payment method, we have over 5,000 vehicles running on CNG in the country," the official said.
NIPCO's Head of Public Affairs,Taofeek Lawal said that more than 4,000 vehicles had already converted to use CNG in Benin, Edo.
Lawal said that over 500 vehicles were also operating in Lagos on the environment friendly CNG.
According to him, the aim of the CNG refilling stations in Nigeria, especially in Lagos, was to provide alternative to Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or petrol at a reduced cost and to boost national socio-economic growth.
He also said that aside the economic gains, CNG targeted reduction of unfriendly automobile emissions and exposure of Nigerians to the innovation of powering vehicles on gas.
NIPCO's spokesperson said that the company had about 10 CNG operating stations nationwide, while others were under construction.
``CNG sustainability in Nigeria and Lagos is sustainable considering Nigeria is one of the largest producers of Natural Gas.
``Ibafo CNG station, near Lagos, is a world class facility with about 12 dispensing pump for light and heavy duty trucks refilling facilities.
"It is also sustainable in that private sector is taking the lead, as government provides enabling environment for it to thrive,'' he said.
Lawal said that the conversion of vehicles to become CNG compatible cost between N200,000 and N300,000.
He said that the cost profile of CNG vehicular conversion came with a flexible repayment package and depended on the choice of kit.
He also identified poor awareness about the innovative CNG powered vehicles to the absence of policy on natural gas vehicles and lack of natural gas supply across Nigeria.
Lawal said that stagnation of CNG revolution in Nigeria was also due to the inability of NIPCO and the Nigerian Gas Company to float a Joint Venture (JV).
He said that the lack of gas infrastructure, pricing and government support was militating against CNG expansion in Lagos.
``Nigerians are well informed towards the CNG projects but it could improve.
``The best time for CNG popularisation is when government increase the price of PMS to further compel motorist to think of the cost benefits of powering vehicles with natural gas.
``N55 per standard cubic feet of gas is equivalent to one litre of petrol which currently sells at N87 with government subsidy.
``All the necessary approval from DPR has being obtained before commencement of operation,'' he said.
Lawal said that NIPCO had concluded arraignment to build CNG refilling stations in Lagos and environs.
First published in Peoples Daily, http://www.peoplesdailyng.com/26-years-after-nigerians-embracing-gas-to-power-vehicles/
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