It is common in Nigeria for the people to lack access to most of the products from the rich natural resources the country is endowed with; an example being gas.
According to analysts, Nigeria is even more of a gas producing country than oil, ranking 9th largest gas deposit in the world, with over 207 million cubic feet of gas which it flares and wastes every day.
With the abundance of deposit in the country, it is surprising that the masses cannot afford to buy ordinary 5kg cylinder for domestic use as a result of constant increase in prize of the commodity.
Explaining the remote and immediate causes of gas shortage in the country which have led to increase in the price of the commodity, National President of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, Olatunbosun Oladapo, said Nigeria has deposit in abundance but the production is inadequate.
According to him, “There is difference between deposit which is natural resource that God has given to us. We are the 9th in terms of deposit all over the world but in terms of production, exploration, we are not there”.
Oladapo who was guest on Arise TV’s The Morning Show, further explained reasons for the inadequate production of gas which has led to spike in the cost of the product.
“The problem is, years back, Nigerians were not using gas because of fear and poor enlightenment, unlike the western world.
“Now we are talking about 240million estimated population which is in combination, more than four African countries. If 15 or 20 % of this population decides to adopt gas, the question is, is the gas available?
”What we did before is, because the usage was not much and people got it locally; when NLNG came on board, with due respect to president Obasanjo, who gazetted it, NLNG began giving gas to the local production.
“The NLNG’s production was very adequate but when population began to increase and more people began to use gas, we began to have problem.
”We were on 550 metric tonnes per annum, now Nigeria is on 1250 metric tonnes per annum.
“We have capacity to go to 5 million metric tonnes per annum because of huge population but currently what we produce locally is so insufficient and when that was the case before, we supplemented it with import”.
Oladapo disclosed the sad fact that “About 60% of gas used in this country is imported from Algeria, America, Central Africa, etc.
“We want the gas we are using to be produced in this country but we are not mindful that we don’t have the capacity to produce the need because all our four refineries are not working”.
The huge gap in local production he insisted, can only be bridged by importation. “Now the import becomes an issue when we have forex, exchange of forex and devaluation of our currency; dollar has really gone up against naira and has become unaffordable and there’s no official window for gas. So people buy from parallel market and factor it in their cost template”.
There are also some other charges recently introduced by government according to Oladapo and at the end, it’s the consumers- Nigerians that bear the brunt in form of high price.
For those who are expecting the price of cooking gas to come down any time soon, sorry for the disappointment as the Arise TV guest who acknowledged the high prize, disclosed that “It has not stopped, it is still going up because there is now artificial scarcity. Storage facilities are dry now; there is no gas in the country”.
The major concern of the association he revealed, is the impact of rising cost of gas on Nigerians. He noted that, “People who have invested in this business now are suffering because of low patronage.
:People are abandoning gas to other alternatives. These alternatives are not healthy. You’ll agree with me that the solution at Glasgow, the just concluded summit, was that deforestation will stop by 2030.
“If we don’t make gas available, Nigeria cannot comply with that because people are going into the bush and cutting down trees.
“They are using less gas now. Even the charcoal we call processed wood is a product of deforestation.
“So the money spent in campaigning for aforestatation will be lost in 5 years. Erosion will come in, and there will be devastation. Also, health issues come in as the charcoal or wood has effect on users’ eyes and lungs”.
As part of solutions he proffered, government needs to suspend charges on import gas pending the time the country is able to produce domestically and that he said, will take another 5 to 7 years because while population grows, refineries are not working.
“We still have abundant deposit but we need investors to come in; and we must create affordable market to attract investors.
“If gas is affordable, life will be more meaningful. Price may not come down to what it used to be but at least it will be better than what we have now.
“As at today, a 12.5kg is sold for 10,000 depending on the location and it’s going up. 20 metric tonnes LPG now is sold for 11.6million as against 3.8 million which was the price in January”.
Unfortunately Oladapo maintained, the price which has not stopped going up will be worst as December approaches and “If there is no intervention now, by December, January, Nigerians will find it difficult to live a good life because the window is closed; nobody is bringing gas to the country and what we produce here is not sufficient”.