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Failure frustrates conversion scheme from diesel to CNG, petrol engines

Two years after the Federal Government launched the Autogas Initiative on the back of National Gas Expansion Programme, prevailing circumstances, especially with rising cost of diesel, is forcing motorists, most importantly those with high fuel-consuming vehicles, to convert their diesel engines to petrol, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Many of such operators, who hitherto, preferred diesel engines due to its heavy capacity and low combustion rate, are beginning to find the cost of sustaining their operations unbearable, notwithstanding the many hours of travel time due to traffic congestion.

Though the price of natural gas trades higher, operators noted that at N110 per scm, the equivalent of a litre of petrol, CNG remains the cheapest alternative in the country, ahead of petrol and diesel.

At almost N850 a litre of diesel as of yesterday, as well as scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, the global market is in an unusual state of turmoil and uncertainty as fuel prices are high everywhere, spiking inflation.

The government had anticipated that within one year, one million of the estimated 12 million vehicles plying Nigerian roads would be running on CNG and LPG as part of measures to mitigate tension over the proposed removal of subsidy and save the environment from hazards of PMS. It was also believed that it would facilitate the transition to a clean energy source.

The plan, however, witnessed setback, going by what stakeholders described as high cost of conversion and non-availability of the one million conversion kits promised by the Federal Government.

Media had earlier reported that infrastructure, high cost of gas, lack of proper planning, prevailing harsh economic realities and safety concerns continue to frustrate President Muhammadu Buhari’s autogas plan.

A major operator in the gas value-chain told The Guardian that the cost of conversion is a disincentive for many people that desire the service.

According to the operator, at N250,000 conversion cost for a single cylinder and about N400,000 for two cylinders, many interested parties have had to reconsider their options.

The planned conversion may have hit roadlock as it was gathered yesterday that the cost of converting a vehicle, especially heavy-duty trucks, has moved to N5 million.