By Timothy Choji, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari says the utilisation of Nigeria’s large gas deposits would enhance development in the country.
The President made the remark at the virtual inauguration of the National Gas Expansion Programme in Abuja.
He said the inauguration of the programme marks a milestone in the current administration’s quest to provide an alternative energy source for Nigerians.
He said: “The National Auto-Gas roll Out Initiative is a deliverable of the Natural Gas expansion Programme of government. Today’s event signals the realisation of government’s commitment to ensure the domestic utilization of the nation’s vast gas resources, which currently stands at over 2two trillion cubic feet.
“Through the development of robust gas infrastructure, expansion of gas-based industries, massive adoption of gas as auto and cooking fuel, with the overall objective of employing same as catalyst for the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
“It is an important milestone in the widening of domestic gas supply ana tge provision of cleaner, safer and better energy option for Nigerians.”
President Buhari appreciated Nigerians and Organised Labour for restraint, understanding and patience as the country tackles myriad of economic challenges, assuring that the Government is working hard to ameliorate the situation.
“Let me now express my deep appreciation to Nigerians for their patience, and Organized Labour for its maturity and patriotism as we collectively navigate these global economic and other challenges,’’ he said.
Gas as Alternative Fuel
The President urged Nigerians to embrace the use of gas as an alternative to fuel.
“It is no longer news that the vast Natural Gas resources, which Nigeria is endowed with has hitherto been used sub-optimally as a result of a dearth of gas processing facilities and infrastructural connectivity for effective and optimal domestic utilization.
“As I mentioned above, with a proven reserve of about 203 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) and additional upside of 600 TCF ranking Nigeria as the 9th in the world currently, the need for domestic gas expansion and utilization is apparent,’’ he explained.
President Buhari said the deregulation of the downstream sector had exposed many to price volatilities in the global market, urging attention to more affordable alternative for energy, especially with Nigeria’s heavy reserve.
“Therefore, the roll-out of the National Gas Expansion Programme, Auto-gas initiative is coming at the right time, especially in light of global crude oil market fluctuations coupled with the full deregulation of the local PMS market.
“These developments have made it imperative to focus on gas as an alternative fuel to move Nigeria from the conventional dependence on white products for autos and prime-movers of industrial applications, to cleaner, more available, accessible and affordable energy source.
“The outcome will not only cushion the effect of the downstream deregulation that this government has to painfully implement, but also create new markets and enormous job opportunities for our people.
“I therefore encourage everyone to embrace gas in form of LPG, CNG and LNG as an alternative fuel for autos and other prime-movers,’’ he said.
The President then directed the Minister of State-Petroleum, Timipre Sylva to commence the process of handing over gas powered mass transit buses to the labour leaders, to help cushion the effects of harsh economy on the masses.
“The Minister of State Petroleum Resources is hereby directed to commence the process of hand over of mass transit buses to Organized Labour as part of our government’s pledge to continue providing support that will ease the transportation challenges Nigerians are facing at this time,’’ the President said.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva said the Ministry was focusing on development of skills, technology and manpower as well as growth in the utilisation of LPG, CNG and LNG.
He added that the National Gas Expansion programme which was initiated this year to boost the utilisation of gas in the short and medium term “is expected to create two million jobs per annum, promote skills acquisition and enhance technology transfer in addition to growing the nation’s GDP.”
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kolo Kyari informed the gathering that from 2016 to 2019, Nigerian Government had spent over three trillion Naira subsidizing the pump price of petroleum products particularly PMS, insisting that the subsidy regime did not benefit the masses that the President is passionate about.
He added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it impossible to continue with the onerous subsidy regime.