The Acting Executive Secretary of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr. Victor Shidok in this interview with CYRIL OGAR bares his mind on the sideline of the sensitization workshop on Biofuel development in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Sir, what necessitated the biofuels work-shop?
We are all conversant of the renewed emphasis of government on the development of other sources of energy as alternative to petroleum products. It is indeed a growing trend worldwide today. Nigeria, therefore, should not be left behind in ensuring the development and commercialization of biofuels as an alternative energy source, especially now that the reality of a gradual depletion of our hydrocarbon base is evident.
Where do we go from here?
The workshop is just to make people to understand that there are other alternatives for fossil-fuel. There is other potential that Nigeria can tap to make sure that we diversify our economy to an area that we have been all this while. That is the area of earth-nule which has to do with bio-fuels, bio diesel and bio mass. When we are through with the sensitization, the next level is to make sure that we get those that are experts in the area continue to have this kind of interface and see how they can come up with a clear strategy on how we can develop the bio fuel industry to benefit not only you and me but Nigerians at large.
Do you have a timeline for the take off of this project?
Yes! Basically, when you have a policy, you could have your timeline. For everything, you should have a proper planning. While executing the plan, you could have some kind of challenges. We are looking at certain crops within a year. You could have the yield and then you could go into production. So, in the next two years, hopefully, if this policy is passed into law, included in the gazette and received its allocation from the necessary authorities, we should be able to see visible signs of the production of bio fuels from earth-nule.
Talking about the policy being at the Federal Executive Council…(cuts in)
The policy is still at the draft stage. You know what we have done at our level coordinating the policy by PPPRA is to make sure that we bring in key stakeholders that will make inputs with a view to ensure wider acceptability of the products.
Which agent will be the major driver for this policy?
As I said, roles are being designed. Coordination for now is being done by the PPPRA but the eventual document that will come up will define who should be the driver.
Sir, at the initial stage, are we looking at E5 or E10? What are we exactly looking at?
We talked about graduating what we are looking at. This is because you cannot just go into production and have sufficiency from what you are looking, when we are able to have the required volume for it. Meanwhile, we’ll start with E5, we hope to graduate to E10 and then Nigeria may be the first country within West Africa to go into full blown production of bio fuels if this policy comes into play. We are looking at the domestic requirement but you know, it will provide another means of foreign exchange when you export to other West African countries.
Are we saying that South Africa has not gone far beyond what you are doing now?
Talking about South Africa, yes, we are concentrating on West Africa. This is because when you look at the volume of petroleum product being consumed in West Africa and then where it comes (mostly from Europe). We are trying to see if we can start a portion of import that can easily be used for the blending of earth-nule. The will engender a solving growth in Nigeria. Meanwhile, our target is not the production of fuels but to see how we can engage our youths in the production of agriculture foodstuff that provides the necessary inputs for the production of earth-nule. Also, when that policy comes to play, naturally you will see improved technology. We can realize that hopefully those who even come to the area to seek for jobs will no longer do so. This is a market that a lot of investors are ready to go off tech. Once you have your off tech, you will be able to withstand your production.
What can you say about the environ-mental hazard?
Biofuel is bound to make the country develop a low carbon economy and gradually reduce environmental pollution associated with fossil fuel so as to achieve our country’s commitment to the global agreement under the Intended National Deter-mined Contribution (INDC) Project. At the same time, it will create commercially viable and sustainable afro-industrial cluster across the country. It will equally provide the enabling environment for biomass co-generation of electric power and Great Green Wall (GGW) Programmes that may be practised for the good of all Nigerians.
What level of support do you have?
The draft policy at the moment enjoys the full support and backing of the Honourable Minister and all the key stakeholders in the energy sector.