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Lack of clean LPG: Nigeria, others, risk $2.4t loss, four million deaths yearly

By Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja
01 May 2022   |   4:05 am
Nigeria and other countries around the world are faced with the urgent need to adopt clean cooking solutions or face yearly loss of over $2.4t and death of at least, four million people yearly.

• Flare Gas Optimisation To Leapfrog Nigeria’s $10b Market — Omuojine

Nigeria and other countries around the world are faced with the urgent need to adopt clean cooking solutions or face yearly loss of over $2.4t and death of at least, four million people yearly.

Experts at the African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA), Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), Global LPG Partnership (GLPGP), CITAC Africa and other energy players were not satisfied with the level of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) penetration in Africa although countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania have significantly increased penetration.

This is coming at a time when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the average retail price of LPG in Nigeria soared by 83.62 per cent in year, a development which has allegedly returned consumers to firewood and charcoal despite the over 206 trillion standard cubic feet of gas in Nigeria.

Speaking at the ARDA’s second yearly virtual LPG workshop, CCA’s Simba Mudimbu noted that clean cooking remained the most under-invested health and environmental problem in the world.

According to him, while LPG consumption is increasing across Africa, the rate of adoption is low as over 60 per cent of urban Africans live in informal settlements, and many cannot afford the upfront cost of cooking gas.

Mudimbu, while speaking on “The last mile -LPG distribution models advancing clean cooking access,” said weak distribution networks in rural areas also contributed to very low penetration in such communities.

“Across the world, over four billion people are without access, $2.4t is lost yearly due to lack of clean cooking as four million people die yearly from the same reasons while 120 Mt of climate pollutants per year is recorded. This development is increasing carbon emissions by 10 percent yearly.

Executive Secretary of ARDA, Anibor Kragha, who said LPG is the fastest-growing petroleum product in sub- Saharan Africa, disclosed that the per capita LPG consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa is however the lowest in the world.

Kragha, while stressing that African government and stakeholders must find sustainable ways to address the challenges noted that although sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 14.4 per cent of world’s population, it has less than one per cent of global LPG consumption.

He said growing option was critical to energy transition and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, Kragha said finance and infrastructure remained key as many countries have little or no bulk handing facilities for LPG.

He, however,admitted that LPG consumption in Africa has more than doubled since 2010 as consumption rate now hovers around 9.7 per year growth rate over the past decade.

Executive Director, Rainoil Limited, Emmanuel Omuojine said optimisation of gas flaring in Nigeria remained a viable option for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) penetration in Nigeria.

Omuojine, said Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product might witness $1b growth yearly through optimisation of flared gas.

He said sub-optimal infrastructure, poor roads for transportation, significant gas processing infrastructure deficit, obsolete pipelines, limited berthing facilities among others were barriers to LPG growth in Nigeria.

He equally decried the lack of investment incentives, import bottlenecks, multiple agency interface for projects and importation as well as challenges with the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, stressing that there was need for full deregulation of PMS and gas policy implementation.

While reiterating that total African market size for LPG would exceed $210 billion by 2028, Omuojine said use of LPG would continue to grow faster than other fuels sectors as LPG would be available, but prices will retain linkage to crude oil.

He also noted that accelerated demand growth in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and others is expected to eat into Sub-Saharan African LPG exports, eventually flipping to net imports.

According to him, Nigeria requires about $750 million investment in LPG transport and retailing infrastructure across the country to achieve the target of 5 Million MT annual consumption.

Omuojine said by investing in gas adoption and utilization an estimate of over $27 million per year? would be generated by switching 50 per cent of kerosene and firewood users to LPG.

While adding that optimisation of flared gas could impact the country’s gross domestic product by up to $1 billion per year, Omuojine noted the need for Private partnerships, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and blended finance

He equally asked government to ensure regulatory and policy inhibitions, key infrastructure incentives, acceleration of megaprojects and regional integration to grow local production.

The expert also urged the need to coordinate effective Public Enlightenment and Sensitization Advocacy on health and cost benefits to drive penetration while enforcing effective penalties for emissions, rewarding for global warming reductions, encouraging bio-LPG among others.

Speaking on “Enabling Environment: Policy and Regulatory for bioLPG”, expert at the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at University College London, Dr. Meron Tesfamichael noted that clean cooking would lead countries like Nigeria and others across the world to achieve environmental protection, conservation of natural resources gender equality as well as economic opportunities.

Considering that most African countries, including Nigeria are signatories to Paris Agreement, SDGs and net-zero plan, Tesfamichael noted that high-level commitment towards enabling environment would be needed to further current efforts on clean cooking.

She called for policy cohesion; inter-agencies coordination; cross sectoral dialogue and harmony in regulation enforcement, proactive policy and framework, incentives and strategies that would fast track clean cooking on the continent.

Stressing on policy and regulatory instrument, she stated that planning, licensing, performance monitoring, enforcement of market based incentives recovery; support for private participation; provision of infrastructure and other factors remain sacrosanct.

Chairman, Global LPG Partnership, Kimball Chen said a stable and adequate government enabling environment in the area of policies, regulations, standards and enforcement, as well as reliable feedstock economics, quantities, specification, delivery schedule and market could foster bioLPG adoption across Africa.

BioLPG, which is propane, butane or a combination of both gases produced from renewable feedstocks offers an ideal energy solution that could reduce carbon footprint or emissions by over 80 per cent.

Encouraging investors to consider the option, Chen said feedstocks such as organic wastes, agricultural residues, plastic waste, feedstock gathering and logistics, facilities to convert feedstock into feed gas, bioLPG reforming plant and LPG market distribution infrastructure access are necessary considerations for investors.

Bioenergy Programme Manager at the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), Dr. Patrick Littlewood, the developer of Cool LPG technology for production of bioLPG, who also spoke at the event noted that the challenges currently experienced in sourcing investment for fossil fuel project could be mitigated by bioLPG, which is chemically identical to fossil LPG and could help provide Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) while meeting international climate targets.

He revealed that GLPGP, a UN-backed not-for-profit organisation, aimed at helping transition large populations to LPG for clean, modern cooking has already sealed a partnership with the Gas Technology Institute to promote bioLPG in developing countries around the world.

Speaking on “How to OptimiSe the use of LPG within the Global Energy Transition Window,” Acting Director (Research, Monitoring & Evaluation) at Ghana’s National Petroleum Authority, Joseph Wilson noted that LPG has been exceptionally placed to act as a “bridging fuel” which would minimise environmental impacts, satisfy energy needs, where over 850 million on the continent still rely on tradition biomass for cooking.

He emphasised that adoption remained the key means forthe reduction of over 500,000 premature deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa due to indoor air pollution considering that the technological solutions that currently exist to deal with indoor air pollution is costly and would take time to take effect.

While Wilson believes that LPG is close to natural gas as the least carbon-intensive fuel and its production would grow with rising gas production from natural gas processing, he disclosed that the consumption per capita in Africa is low compared to other developing Countries.

He stressed that LPG use could bring about environmental benefits such as reduced indoor and outdoor pollution and could help mitigate deforestation – a major cause of global warming.

To optimise LPG use, Wilson called for the stringent regulations against charcoal while urging African government to enforce standards for LPG safety.

Noting that financial tax and subsidy have roles to play, Wilson said funding, affordability of gas, ownership of cylinders and stoves could increase with incentives, tax break and subsidies from the government.

Wilson equally canvassed for government initiatives on market, knowledge and perception, as well as supply chain infrastructure, adding that demand must be created through specific strategies.

“Private sector involvement in clean cooking remains highly fragmented, because a majority of clean cooking companies are small scale and face difficulties in accessing adequate funding. Business can take advantage of Clean Cooking Fund to help address these problems by providing result based finance, grants and technical assistance to organisations that offer innovative solutions to accelerating deployment of clean cooking solutions,” he said.

Noting that innovative solutions are emerging around Sub-Saharan African, Executive Director, CITAC, James McCullagh noted that cost of starter pack (cylinder, burner, regulator, stove, hose), gap between the money to refill gas daily or buy charcoal equivalent, lack of suitable credit and other challenges are critical barriers bedevilling LPG adoption on the continent.

McCullagh, who noted the need for subsidy, reduced tax, Pay As You Go (PAYG) options, expansion of LPG infrastructure in rural communities as key issues, said beyond price, awareness campaigns and advertising are critical to ensuring uptake of LPG.

While seeing reseller networks, service station cages, home delivery as options to prioritise, McCullagh said there was need for strong regulation on carbon credits and tree fellingas well as encouragement of in-community sales points.