In an energy sector where wins are few and far between, NIPCO Plc’s million-dollar investment is setting the foundation for a thriving gas-powered initiative in Africa’s biggest economy.
While Nigeria is awash with gas, it spends billions of dollars yearly to import Premium Motor Spirit – petrol. The federal government seeks to change this situation by removing petrol subsidies and displacing petrol with gas-powered vehicles.
Championing this initiative is NIPCO, a company that has invested over N100 billion in gas infrastructures over the years to consolidate its leadership position in the gas business.
Suresh Kumar, the managing director of NIPCO said the company remains relentless in its vision it conceived in 2009 and would continue to make massive investments to consolidate President Bola Tinubu’s plan to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).
Kumar recalled that the company pioneered using gas for vehicular fuel in the country because natural gas is a greener and an indigenous alternative to conventional fuels for vehicles.
“We are the pioneers. We always dream about the future. So we dreamt of natural gas utilisation in Nigeria right from 2008 and we started investing. We introduced this model to the government and say that look, Nigeria is a country that has abundant natural gas and instead of wasting subsidy on petrol, we should be looking at a blueprint of changing the petrol market to CNG market,” he explained.
Kumar also announced the inauguration of its state-of-the-art AutoCNG Filling Station in Ibadan, Oyo State.
According to Kumar, the facility, strategically located at the Mobil Station near the toll gate on the Ibadan-Lagos expressway, marks a significant milestone in the promotion of cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation solutions.
The MD noted that NIPCO is strategically positioned to supply CNG to automobiles through its daughter booster stations fed through its CNG cascades in Abuja. Currently, it operates 3 stations and has plans to expand to 10 stations in the short term.
He noted that AutoCNG, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) optimised for automotive use, is a proven and efficient solution for CNG-powered vehicles, including buses, cars, truck-heads, tricycles, and more, across the globe.
Continuing, the NIPCO boss said: “A total of 6000 vehicles have been converted to use CNG at the company’s workshops in Benin in Edo State, Ibafo in Ogun State, Ajaokuta in Kogi State and in Abuja as one of the organisation efforts at providing access and alternative to motorists to power their vehicles.”
“With the inauguration of the compression station at Ibafo in 2016 with a total capacity of 300,000 SCMD, gas is now being transported in cascades to other areas not linked with pipelines across the country.
“The diversification of the company’s operations in natural gas has created lots of employment opportunities for Nigerian technicians and thus aiding local content in the industry.”
The company’s efforts in the industry, according to him, “are exposing Nigerians to the latest technology in gas compression and conversion of vehicles. “Continuous exposure of Nigerian technicians to a plethora of natural gas projects had provided a veritable avenue for them to gravitate properly in this very technical aspect of converting vehicles to run on gas.
In January 2010, NIPCO plc commissioned its first CNG plant and filling station in Benin City. Ten years later, over 6,000 natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in the state are used for public and private transport.
“We believe that there is a lot of potential in Nigeria that can be explored for gas utilisation, and this will further boost our economy.
“We have workshops which are fully efficient and fully capable to convert PMS vehicles to gas, we have the expertise and we are ready to convert more vehicles to run on gas. So, we intend to have CNG stations in almost all the states of Nigeria wherever the pipeline is available.
“Presently we are laying an 80-kilometre CNG pipeline from Shagamu interchange to Ibadan. The pipeline construction work is ongoing and with a target line to be commissioned in a year,” he said.
“This will open up more opportunities for the gas market,” Kumar said.
The managing director noted that the company is also developing gas pipeline infrastructure in Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, which is currently nearing completion.
On safety, Kumar said the cylinders installed in vehicles are seamless and almost like core solid metal and are designed to withstand extremely high impact.
Nigeria has the 9th largest gas reserves globally with about 209.5 trillion cubic feet(tcf) of proven gas reserves. Experts say good policies will drive private sector investment into conversion and building filling stations.