The federal yesterday indicated that it is considering extending the current equalization scheme in the petrol supply system in the country to the movement of gas across the country to make the product more available and accessible to Nigerians.
Speaking yesterday during an interactive session with energy correspondents in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) Management Board, Mr. Ahmed Bobboi, noted that when the policy becomes functional, it will help tackle inflation associated with increases in gas products.
PEF’s main function is to ensure price uniformity of petroleum products via the reimbursement of marketers for trucking products to filling stations anywhere in Nigeria.
The executive secretary stated that the scheme had yet to fully take off because the government was still propagating the use of gas as an alternative fuel and was yet to get its full adoption by the majority of Nigerians.
He noted that 2021 to 2030 had been declared as the “Decade of Gas”, explaining that a lot of consultations were still ongoing with all relevant agencies to make the proposal become a reality.
Bobboi stated that the policy was also awaiting the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which will clearly spell out the new functions of the PEF, stressing that whatever role is assigned the petrol equalization board will determine the next line of action on the proposed scheme.
“This is the (equalisation) scheme that we are trying to extend to gas because the government has declared the decade of gas and we have seen that this has been working for the economy for over 45 years effectively.
“Because things are much better and if you want to see the benefits, then look at it that in the absence of this scheme what happens to other commodities, the economy, to inflation and then many businesses would have been adversely affected.
“If it’s working well for petrol and government wants to promote the use of gas, if we can take the practice to gas, we believe that it will add value to the economy in so many ways in the value chain,” Bobboi argued.
He maintained that when the government extends the practice to the gas sector, it will help many Nigerian homes abandon the use of firewood and reduce deforestation.
According to him, it will also eliminate the health hazards associated with the use of high carbon fuels like firewood, especially in rural and remote areas.
“This will make the product available because we have a lot of gas in the country, it will make it affordable which will incentivise the marketers to take it to the last mile, the consumer will also be incentivised because the marketer will bring down his price. This will do a lot of good to the economy. This is our view,” he noted.
Bobboi who took time to break down the continuing relevance of the petrol equalisation fund noted that government was not paying a dime in ensuring parity of petrol price in the country, adding that the consumer pays for it.
The executive secretary emphasised that “bridging” had become even more relevant because most of the pipelines that were supposed to take the products to many parts of the country had been vandalised.
He stressed that the original reason for the bridging the policy was to act as a buffer on consumers during turn-around-maintenance, adding that even the existing depots have not been functioning properly.
“The pipelines have been vandalised, now instead of 30 per cent maximum bridging, it is now about 100 per cent. The cheapest we can have is 98 to 99 per cent because the movement through the pipelines is very low,” he stated.