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NNPC, Niger signs MoU to produce cleaner fuel

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By Abraham Adekunle

Agreement to pave way for a 500-million-liter ethanol plant within the state.

As a step towards boosting Nigeria ethanol-production capacity and boosting sustainability principles, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Niger State. The agreement paves the way for establishing a 500 million-liter ethanol plant, alongside cultivating maize, sugarcane, and sweet sorghum on 100,000 hectares of land within the state. It also entails the NNPC commitment to planting 135 million trees on the allocated land. This demonstrates the national corporation’s dedication to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 and actively contributing to climate protection efforts.

This ethanol-production initiative is expected to generate over 500,000 tons of crops for powering the ethanol plant. Mele Kyari, the chief executive officer of NNPC, stated that the MoU represents a crucial step in the agency’s endeavour to enhance the country’s ethanol production capacity while following sustainable practices. The partnership also aligns with the agency’s broader strategy to diversify the country’s energy mix and promote the adoption of environmentally friendly alternatives in line with global standards.

Partnership with US council to advance production capabilities.

Nigeria diversification into ethanol production comes amidst its transition from the highly subsidized petrol regime. The government is actively exploring Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a viable alternative to petrol, aiming to curb the escalating fuel costs. In the same vein, the NNPC has engaged in discussions with the United States Grains Council for the purpose of exploring potential avenues for cooperation in advancing Nigeria ethanol production capabilities. The meeting was led by the CEO of the council, Ryan LeGrand.

It focused on identifying opportunities to leverage expertise and resources from both parties. LeGrand said that the council is committed to supporting Nigerian efforts to expand its ethanol production. “We are eager to collaborate with NNPC and share our knowledge and expertise to strengthen Nigeria position as a key player in the ethanol sector further.” The partnership is important to Nigeria because the United States is the world’s largest producer of fuel ethanol. The country manufactured 15.4 billion gallons in 2022.

House of Reps urge NNPC to revisit Benue ethanol project.

Brazil has the second-largest production capacity, generating 7.5 billion gallons during the same period. Ethanol is a grain alcohol derived from agricultural sources, which can be blended with gasoline and utilized in conventional motor vehicles at concentrations of up to 10 percent. NNPC partnership with Niger State and its exploration of collaboration with the US Grains Council underscores the corporation’s commitment to diversifying Nigeria energy landscape, promoting sustainable practices, and positioning the country as a prominent player in the global ethanol market.

Meanwhile, the lower legislative chamber, the House of Representatives, had recently urged the NNPC to revisit the Biomass Ethanol Project that was abandoned in Benue State. The resolution had followed the adoption of Rep. Sekav Iortyom’s motion titled, “Revitalisation of the Biomass Ethanol Project Abandoned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in Benue State.” According to Iortyom, NNPC signed an MoU with Benue State on the project in 2017. It was aimed at establishing a biogas cogeneration plant that would generate 64 megawatts of electricity, carbon dioxide recovery and a bottling plant to produce 2000 tonnes annually as well as an animal feed plan.

FG had directed the agency to establish the same in six geopolitical zones.

Iortyom had noted that the NNPC was mandated by the Federal Government in 2005 to establish a domestic fuel ethanol industry, to reduce Nigeria environmental pollution and reliance on imported gasoline, and to create a sustainable commercial sector. As part of the directive, the petroleum agency was directed to establish a fuel ethanol industry in six geopolitical zones of Nigeria to improve automotive fossil fuel quality. The project included a sugar cane feedstock plantation, a sugar mill, and a fuel ethanol processing plant.

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