• Sat. Sep 30th, 2023

Subsidy removal crisis shifts attention to autogas, CNG as alternative fuels to petrol

ByBassey Udo

Jun 6, 2023

The current petrol subsidy removal crisis has reinforced the quest for autogas and compressed natural gas (CNG) as alternative fuels to petrol. 

Since new President, Bola Tinubu’s pronouncement on the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, the retail price of petrol per litre has soared beyond the reach of the common man.

Apart from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) which raised its retail pump price of the commodity by195 percent, from N195 per litre to an average of N488 and N557 per litre, the major and independent petroleum products marketers have also adjusted upwards their prices to an average of N540 and N600 per litre. 

The new prices appear to be beyond the reach of the common man, particularly workers in the low income bracket who can barely afford the escalating prices of basic necessities of life, like food and transportation, due to the impact of petrol price hike. 

Concerned by the plight of the workers, the Central Labour movement, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had threatened to embark on a nationwide strike action to protest over the government’s decision to remove fuel subsidy without first providing palliatives to give succour to its members, but particularly the low income earners.

However, following negotiations with the representatives of the government, the leadership of the NLC and it’s affiliate unions, including the Trade Union Congress (TUC), resolved on Monday to suspend the planned strike earlier scheduled to commence on Wednesday nationwide. 

Apart from the need to establish a joint committee on palliatives, including to review the proposal on wage increase as well as a framework and timeline for implementation, the agreement reached between organised labour and representatives of the government included the revival of the CNG conversion Programme agreed with Labour in 2021 and work out details for its implementation. 

Revisiting the issue of promoting autogas and CNG as alternative fuels to petrol in the country underscores the strategic importance of gas to the country’s economy.

The country is richly blessed with abundant gas resources, although domestic utilisation has been low due to inadequate infrastructural facilities. 

To promote gas development in the country, the government has embarked on a number of initiatives in recent times under the gas commercialisation programme aimed at realising the 2025 gas flares-out target.

Some of the initiatives include CNG development, mini-liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and gas-based industries in the country.

The CNG and LPG penetration programme was initiated to encourage Nigerians to use the two natural resources as alternative fuels to petrol in the country.

The promotion of autogas and CNG as alternative fuels to petrol is also part of the government’s gas development initiative under the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP).

The current subsidy removal crisis has not only made petrol almost unaffordable for some vehicle owners, it has also heightened the need to explore alternative fuels to petrol.

Apart from their advantage of being priced significantly lower than petrol and automotive gas oil (AGO), or diesel, autogas and CNG have the added benefit of being environmentally-friendly with lower carbon emissions.

Perhaps, the only big cost vehicle owners would have to near would be the initial cost of conversion of the petrol vehicles to autogas or autoCNG, as the cost for refill is as low as an average of N80 and N100 per litre, which is significantly cheaper than petrol.

Nigerians expect part of the negotiations between organised Labour and the Federal Government to cover marking down the cost of conversion and installation of autogas and CNG in vehicles to make them affordable to average Nigerians.

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