Cooking gas scarcity looms as supply falls


Most Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas) plants in the country have run out of product supply, and the instability is causing serious panic among stakeholders, investigation by our correspondent has shown.

This supply challenge, our correspondent gathered, is heightened by the fact that the concerned authorities have not been able to provide a space for the berthing of LPG vessel from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas which is on Apapa shore.

The vessel is said to have been waiting for a space to berth for more than a week, our correspondent also gathered.

Speaking on the development, the National President of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Retailers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Michael Umudu, in an email response to queries from The PUNCH, admitted that there was a serious challenge in the supply of LPG at the moment.

He said, “There is a serious problem in the supply of LPG currently. In fact, as of today, most LPG plants in the country have run out of supply owing to the inability of the concerned authorities to provide a space for the berthing of LPG vessel from NLNG which is staying on the Apapa shore.

“As you may have known, refineries are not producing. The vessel is said to have been waiting for space to berth for some time now, perhaps about two weeks. It appears that the only source of supply now is Navgas which seems to be importing the product and this can never be enough.

“This kind of situation has become a regular occurrence in recent times.”

Umudu said stakeholders in the LPG market had experienced similar shortage in September this year, while explaining that as the situation appeared to be getting normal, recent developments had made it to resurface.

He said if nothing was urgently done, Nigerians might start experiencing the kind of LPG scarcity that characterised the industry before NLNG intervention late 2007.

“It is quite unfortunate that up till now the policymakers (at federal and state levels) are yet to come out with a robust programme to develop the industry. One of the major implications of this kind of erratic supply is rampant malpractices including production or importation of substandard LPG,” the LPGARAN boss lamented.

Many developing countries such as Nigeria that used to depend on traditional fuels like firewood have moved on with LPG and in the process stimulating economic development including job creation for their people while Nigerians are still depleting their forests in search of firewood, he added.

Government, he advised, should construct deposits in parts of the country to receive LPG from NLNG and other producers or provide incentives to attract the needed investors.

He said presently, it appeared that the industry was not attractive enough to investors owing to low usage of LPG in the country, stressing that, “It is equally important to note that if the situation is not checked, the little growth witnessed in the industry in the recent times would be reversed; many Nigerians are beginning to embrace LPG but such cannot continue in this kind of situation.

“Many LPG users and intending users can’t afford the current price let alone paying more for the product that is supposed to be even cheaper. Private investors, local and foreign, have tried to develop the LPG industry as the government often pays less attention to it.

“Even the willing investors are helpless since key infrastructures such as ports are managed by the government. A token of what is currently used to subsidise kerosene, for instance, will suffice to develop LPG sector in the country even as billions of naira annually go into managing environmental problems which can be averted.”

As of last week, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company claimed that 0.34 million litres of LPG was refined locally.

The PPMC, which is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, provides customer services by transporting crude oil to the refineries and moving white petroleum products to the existing and future markets through a network of pipelines and depots.

It also put the daily consumption of the product at 1.2 million litres per day.

The Managing Director of the company, Mr. Haruna Momoh, also described as huge the investment opportunities in the market, saying there was a huge need for private sector involvement in building new refill plants; and training opportunities in cylinder/accessories repair and maintenance.

He said new investors with cutting-edge acumen for the marketing and distribution of LPG was required, adding that there were provisions for the acquisition of LPG trucks within a structured financing model for investors.

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