By Bassey Udo
To deepen Nigeria’s gas revolution, NiPCO Gas Limited and Femadec Express have entered partnership to expand Nigeria’s natural gas-powered vehicles beyond the current 7,000 in the country.
NIPCO Gas Limited is a subsidiary of NIPCO Plc with mandate to inaugurate gas Infrastructures to facilitate the use of natural gas as vehicular fuel and powering of machines by industries.
Assistant General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NIPCO, Taofeeq Lawal, who disclosed this said the partnership would boost the number of natural gas-powered vehicles in the country pursuant to the Federal Government policy towards providing alternative fuel for transportation.
Lawal said the partnership between both companies would leverage on NIPCO Gas capacity and CNG AutoGas distribution network in several states to achieve the objective.
“NIPCO Gas currently has Retail AutoCNG dispensing facilities at Ibafo in Lagos, Benin in Edo, Ajaokuta in Kogi, Okene in Ondo, and Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory – where over 7,000 vehicles are currently being served.
“NIPCO Gas is the only Nigerian company that has “State of art” workshops at Benin City, Ibafo and Abuja, for conversion of vehicles to dual fuel usage. The company has an inventory of conversion kits for all makes of vehicles,” Lawal said.
He said plans were underway to increase its CNG autogas footprints to about 40 stations, with most of these stations including workshops for the conversion of vehicles.
In the near term, he said cities such as those located along the Lekki – Epe Expressway in Lagos, Ibadan in Oyo state, and Oron in Akwa-Ibom State would have similar facilities.
Fermadec Express Limited, on the other hand, is wholly owned by the Femadec Group, a CNG- powered mass transportation and logistics service company, that utilizes innovative technologies to provide these sustainable services in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Femadec Express services include mass transportation services include BRT operations provision, interstate travel, hailing services, and logistics & delivery services, to name a few.
Lawal said the company’s primary operational locations are FCT Abuja, Lagos, and Ibadan (Oyo State). The company, which started with 20 buses manufactured by Hyundai in South Korea, has commenced the deployment of CNG-powered mass transit buses in Abuja.
In line with the Federal Government agenda to increase the utilization of cleaner fuels within Nigeria, Femadec Express has invested in infrastructure, and developed projects schemes that align with this agenda.
This, he said, was also part of efforts to actualize the Federal Government’s Autogas policy which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2020.
On Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Evolution in Nigeria, the NIPCO Spokesman said: “CNG AutoGas was first introduced by the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) in 1989 with two stations in Warri and Benin equipped with AutoGas dispensing infrastructure.
“The project recorded notable successes, as several vehicles were converted to run on Natural Gas, however, the unavailability of CNG stations to service the converted vehicles were noted as a downside to the project.
“In 2007, the Federal Government granted license to NIPCO Plc to implement the pilot project in Benin city, Edo state.
NIPCO Gas, Lawal siad, successfully implemented the AutoGas pilot project in Benin city, with nine operational CNG stations, catering to over 4,300 NGVs in Benin and 700 NGVs in Ibafo, Ogun State. It quickly developed the capacity to convert PMS engine-powered vehicles to CNG AutoGas vehicles with the use of a conversion kit.
As such, he said it was not only factory-produced vehicles that can enjoy the benefits of using natural gas, adding that NIPCO can convert premium motor spirit (PMS) and automotive gas oil (AGO) vehicles to CNG vehicles.
In December 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari performed the virtual rollout of the AutoGas programme called the National Gas Expansion Programme to help take the gas resources to all corners of the country.
The programme, which involves the conversion of fuel-powered cars from petrol to gas, is aimed at deepening domestic usage of natural gas in its various forms.
The programmes are in line with the Federal Government’s plan to make gas the first-choice for cheaper and cleaner energy source.
Also, as the Federal Government seeks to wean itself of subsidy payments for PMS with the gradual deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry as it did with diesel, CNG AutoGas has increasingly become a more desirable energy fuel.
Ultimately, the AutoGas policy will help cushion the impact of petrol subsidy removal, which gulps trillions of Naira annually.
He listed the benefits of AutoGas to include environment-friendly; lighter than air, low/narrow flammability limit; storage design; high auto ignition among others.
For the environment, natural gas, he said, is relatively safer, cleaner, and more economical.
The autogas also has benefits to the Federal Government, as it would promote jobs creation and expansion of the gas infrastructure.
“It reduces the dependence on imported oil, as less foreign exchange would be spent on fuel importation, while reducing the oil subsidy burden on the Federal Government and ensure
the utilization and optimization of domestic gas resources, thereby expanding the country’s economy.
Auto gas also reduces road maintenance costs and road congestion, as natural gas could be supplied through pipelines.”
He said these benefits are not limited to the government and the environment alone, as vehicle/fleets owners would also benefit.
“It is more economical, as there is the cost saving element. It has lower maintenance cost.
It is cleaner, as such it reduces the owner’s carbon footprint. It is a healthier and safer fuel option,” he added.