Automotive LPG or Autogas is the most accessible alternative fuel. Driving an LPG vehicle is safe, easy and, in many countries, considerably cheaper than driving a petrol or diesel model. LPG also emits less CO2 (Carbon-dioxide) and fewer other emissions such as NOx (Nitrogen Oxide).
Autogas first came into light in the mid 1930’s, LPG had been discovered in Germany only a few years earlier as a condensate when compressing refinery off-gas to extract gasoil. It was being sold in cylinders as propane and butane or as a less refined mixture of both components. At the same time countries with a low supply of oil like England and Germany began experimenting with alternative fuels in search of alternatives to fuel their growing car fleets. Ultimately striving for self-reliance, no option was to be left untested. Among others, experiments were conducted with natural gas (methane) and LPG and it was discovered that vehicles running on LPG where more efficient than as it combines low cost and emissions with compared to traditional fuels.
There are four types of Autogas conversion systems:
- Converter-and-mixer systems
- Vapour phase injection (VPI)
- Liquid phase injection (LPI)
- Liquid phase direct injection (LPDI)
Global Adoption of Autogas
Autogas is the most widely used alternative to conventional automotive fuels. Its acceptance and use have been growing quickly in some countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South-Korean, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, UK, US), with Nigeria being the foremost African country, thanks to government policies to encourage the use of alternative fuels on account of its inherent environmental, practical and cost advantages over other such fuels.
Autogas in Nigeria
In Year 2020, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari declared it as the Year of Gas, and programmes are being implemented towards achieving this, such as;
The National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP), which would help accelerate vehicle conversion and deployment of required infrastructure for the Autogas initiative and the LPG Penetration Framework are programmes, designed to reduce the national energy consumption of petrol and diesel by achieving a 40% switch from convention fuel to LPG in 10 years. The programme will also promote the wider use of LPG as Autogas, in households, power generation and industrial applications towards the attainment of five million metric tonnes domestic utilisation and creation of an estimated 500,000 job opportunities nationwide in five years. This is a step towards the Governments efforts in providing an alternative source of energy which is cheaper, cleaner and available in terms of production and supply.
In an effort to promote the use of Autogas, the Government has created several projects and initiatives some of which are;
- The setting up of Autogas and Natural Gas Vehicles Committee (ANGV) with an aim to promote the adoption of autogas as an alternative to power vehicles in Nigeria.
The ANGV is a sub-committee of the NGEP (launched by the Ministry of State for Petroleum Resources in January 2020) and their task is to promote LPG and CNG usage to power passenger cars and city buses thereby creating alternative fuel choices for Nigerians.
- N250 billion financial facility recently earmarked by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fund the Autogas programme.
- The AKK pipeline project
Nigeria’s largest city plans to convert 25% of vehicle fleet to Autogas in four years. The Lagos State Government has outlined plans for the conversion of one million vehicles, representing 25% of the four million vehicles in the state, to Autogas over a four-year period. The initiative is in line with the federal government’s commitment to emission reductions through the National Gas Expansion Plan. The Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Lagos State, Olatere Odusote, disclosed this at a workshop, titled “Stimulating Lagos State Socio-economic Growth through LPG Adoption.” The workshop was organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources with the support of the Office of the Vice President, the National LPG Expansion Plan and the German International Development Agency (GIZ). “Nigeria can showcase Lagos as its flagship economy in addition to other pilot states. The Commissioner also explained that the plan will also involve the deployment of Autogas conversion centres in partnership with OEMs and the rolling out of fuelling dispensers across the five divisions of Lagos State.
- The Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) has listed at least 100 filling stations throughout the country that will be used in the federal government’s Autogas pilot scheme rollout. According to the President of PETROAN, Billy Gillis-Harry, the initiative would be replicated within the five divisional zones of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). For this, the association has signed a collaboration agreement with THLD International Logistics Limited on the use of retail outlets belonging to PETROAN as vehicle conversion centres. The retailers will provide the outlets while the partnering company will be responsible for the training and provision of the technical infrastructure for the conversion centres. “This project is huge,” said Gillis-Harry. “With this partnership with THLD Group, motorists can be sure of simply driving into any of our outlets and getting their vehicle conversions done with ease.”
- BannerGas recently completed construction of an Autogas filling plants for NNPC to flag off the federal government’s Autogas policy. With the success of the launch, BannerGas is furthering its collaboration with NNPC for a vehicle conversion to use Autogas.
- The role of BannerGas is to support the Federal Government of Nigeria in achieving its objective of ensuring smooth and quick transition to Autogas use by a critical mass of road users, by the expansion of its franchise network of LPG filling station network, as the faster deployment option to achieve improved accessibility and market penetration. The initiative, which is being conducted in phases, is currently taking place in Abuja, where technicians are being taught in batches to acquire special skills on Autogas conversion. However, the plan is to expand the project to other states of the federation, where the company has ongoing plans to set up more Autogas conversion centres.
- THLD International Logistic Limited, is entering Africa’s largest commercial nerve centre to enable Nigerians use LPG as a viable replacement of expensive petrol and diesel. The company has a top of the class factory under construction on over 21 plots of land in Otta Ogun state, where LPG trailers, bobtail, skid tank, cylinders, Autogas tanks and storage tanks will be built. This will be the first plant of its kind in all Africa, and will create job opportunities for Nigerians and encourage made in Nigeria goods.