• Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023

    Energy Transition: Sahara Group unfolds plan to inject $1 bn into LPG vessels, infrastructure in Africa

    ByBassey Udo

    Oct 13, 2021


    To boost energy transition in Africa, Sahara Group on Wednesday announced plans to invest over $1billion into the development of energy infrastructure to enhance access to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in Africa and emerging economies.  

    The Executive Director, Sahara Group Temitope Shonubi, announced this at the  African Refiners and Distribution Association (ARDA) conference 2021 in South Africa where he spoke on the role of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in Africa’s energy transition. 

    “Sahara Group, through its subsidiary, WAGL Energy Limited is already working towards investing $1 billion to ramp up its LPG fleet and terminal infrastructure over the next five years.

    “In addition to the vessel fleet, Sahara Group is in the process of building over 120,000 metric tonnes of LPG storage in eleven  African countries,” he said. 

    He said the countries earmarked for the storage tanks include Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana,  Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania and Zambia, whose processes have commenced, with five others in the preliminary stages of development.

    “Sahara will continue to lead efforts geared towards seamless energy transition in Africa through innovative energy solutions via its upstream, midstream, downstream downstream power businesses, including partnerships with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other leading organisations.

    Shonubi noted that Africa had become reliant on imports to meet its LPG demand as a result of low crude oil refining capacity and the absence of adequate wet gas being processed

    Africa’s refining capacity of 3,343,000 barrels per day, he said, was “limited to just 20 countries; utilisation rates have fallen from about 75 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2020,with only six African nations combining LPG storage capacity greater than 50,000 metric tons (MT).

    “Economic progress is key to harnessing Africa’s latent LPG demand to boost economic performance.” 

    He lamented that Africa accounted for just four per cent of global LPG consumption last year, with LPG consumption in Africa considered low compared to other markets.

    Africa’s consumption was 14MT (translating to 12 kilogramme per person) in 2020, compared to Asia Pacific’s108MT ((27kg/person), North America’s 74MT (123kg/person), Europe & Eurasia’s 49MT (49kg/person), Middle East’s 38MT (60kg/person) and Latin America’s 34 MT (53kgs/person). 

    Shonubi attributed the low LPG consumption in Africa to the hurdle of affordability, absence of large-scale LPG storage infrastructure, minimal vessels dedicated to the region,  low set-up cost of firewood and kerosene stoves, as well as negative perceptions and fear of explosions due to poor safety standards, among other factors.

    “While set-up costs may be high, LPG has higher energy efficiency when compared to kerosene and fuel wood and it has virtual zero sulphur content. LPG is key to achieving the UN SDG 7 – Sustainable Development Goal of Universal Access to Energy,” Shonubi said. 

    He said converting just 30 per cent of Africa’s vehicle fleet to run on LPG would result in $3billion annual fuel-cost savings and about 40 billion in CO2 emission reductions, while indirect cost savings from health and infrastructure would exceed $15billion annually. 

    On the role of African governments in encouraging LPG adoption, Shonubi canvassed an enabling policy environment to foster adequate private sector involvement and sustainability. 

    He said funding should be channeled into country-wide investment programmes while megaprojects and regional integration should be accelerated in order to efficiently serve a larger population and grow the economy for multiple countries. 

    He also advocated growing Africa’s LPG consumption, through investments in LPG infrastructure and financing of LPG use through credit schemes, Pay-as-you-use, penalty for emissions,  reward for global warming reductions, inclusion of bio LPG among others. He was very emphatic about protecting the environment today for a safer and more environmental friendly tomorrow.

     Although there was a myth that cooking with fire wood churns out more nutritious meals than cooking with gas,  most of such comparison remained in the mind as there are now seasoning variants that make meals taste the same

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