FG mulls removal of fuel subsidy

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*Sylva

The federal government has made a smart move to wriggle itself out of fuel subsidy payment by encouraging the use of gas-powered vehicles.

The minister of state for petroleum resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva who disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday said that plans were afoot to expand the use of Compressed Natural Gas in order to stop subsidy payment on petrol.

He said the government was set to discourage the use of petrol, especially for commercial transportation.

The minister said payment of subsidy on petrol was taking a toll on the finances of the country hence the move to encourage Nigerians to use CNG as fuel for transportation.

He noted that government had already done a pilot scheme on CNG in Benin City.

He said the trial run had proved that CNG would be a good substitute to petrol if expanded to the entire country.

According to him, while PMS at subsidised price goes for N143 per litre, CNG goes for between N95 and N97 per litre

“We will start very soon to roll out. Already, there is a pilot programme in Benin, which has worked for a long time.

About 4,000 vehicles are already on CNG in Benin.

“We want to expand that CNG programme across the country and we believe it is going to create a lot of opportunities for Nigerians and also give Nigerians a new lease of life because the commodity would be accessible,’’ he said.

Sylva said that the ministry would focus on two key areas in 2020 to help in the stabilising the oil and gas sector and move it to the next level.

He said that the government would support all efforts to ensure the increase in crude oil production level.

According to him, the country currently produces about 1.774 million barrel per day which is still far behind the target.

“A few years ago, we produced more than two million barrels per day but we are projecting three million barrels and ultimately to get to four million bpd.

The United Arab Emirates used to produce 2.7 million bpd but today, they have moved to four million per day.

“We have gone back, today, according to OPEC report, we are producing 1.774 million bpd. You can see the need for us to move forward and that is actually the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to us,’’ he said.

He added that the ministry would ensure the improved relationship between industry stakeholders and the common man on the street by ensuring accessibility of petroleum products.

The minister of state said that the ministry would also in 2020 focus on tackling the insecurity challenge around oil and gas facilities in the country.

“Crude oil theft is being contained with strong legislation but it has continued to linger, this is because of lack of community inclusion.

“Our recommendation will be the use of technology, community participation, engagement of Petroleum Technology Institutes and infrastructure development in the Niger Delta region among others,’’ he said.

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