By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who disclosed this on Tuesday at a virtual press briefing at the State House in Abuja, said with abundant gas reserves of about 206.53 trillion cubic feet and the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, it was vital to deploy autogas.
The Minister recalled that the agreement around auto gas policy a year ago that there must be a critical amount of vehicles converted and corresponding critical amount of dispensing stations in place for the system to kick-start.
Sylva said President Muhammadu Buhari had agreed to an extension to the statutory period for the implementation of the removal of fuel subsidy in line with the existing laws, following engagement with stakeholders.
According to him, the extension will give all stakeholders time to ensure that the implementation is carried out in a manner that ensures all the necessary modalities are in place to cushion the effect off the PMS subsidy removal in line with prevailing economic realities.
He said: “There is also discussion of introducing an alternative for fuel in the form of autogas. We are hoping that in March or April, the conversion processes will begin.
“We promised that one million cars will be converted, and of course the corresponding amount of gas filling stations will be also be built. I want to assure you that it will happen very soon. This has to be in place before we remove subsidy.
“We have discussed with countries and also original equipment manufacturers that are willing to come to Nigeria to set up. They are actually willing also to give us 50 percent of the funding.
“As soon as we are through with counsel, the process of marketers accessing the funding and building of gas stations will begin.
“We are also looking at palliatives. We are looking at possible palliative for Nigerians. All these have to converge before we announce the complete removal of subsidy.”
On the position of the government on the issue of fuel subsidy removal and other measures being put in place to cushion effect of the removal, the minister said the government was working on the rehabilitation of all the refineries in the country and to ensure that they are working by the end of the year (2022).
“The dangote refinery is expected to be on stream by the end of this year. The Port Harcourt Refinery is expected to start performing at a certain capacity by the end of this year. Some other refineries are also expected to come on stream by the end of this year.
“Due to the President’s concern for the plight of Nigerians, especially the less privilege, he believes that the impact that the removal of the subsidy will have on poor and vulnerable Nigerians should be mitigated.
“He believes that all these structures must be put in place prior to the removal,” Sylva said.