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The Federal Government weekend gave conditions under which companies and start-up businesses can access the N250 billion National Gas Expansion Fund set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to boost gas usage in the country.
The government disclosed that so far, 77 companies and start-ups have applied to the fund under various categories, adding that the programme hopes to create over three million jobs across the country.
Speaking on the implementation of the apex bank’s intervention facility in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Bitrus Nabasu, explained that with 206.53 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of proven gas reserve, the government was determined to push gas as an alternative source of fuel for the country.
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Nabasu stated that the country’s natural gas reserve presented an opportunity to diversify the economy through domestic commercial utilization of natural gas.
“Harnessing these opportunities will have a multiplier effect on the economy by providing alternative energy sources to Nigerians, creating investment and consequent employment opportunities for our teeming youth, aligning with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision to bring 100 million Nigerians out of poverty,” he stated.
He noted that the Natural Gas Expansion programme introduced Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, as an alternative fuel of choice for transportation and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, as alternative fuel of choice for domestic cooking, transportation, captive power and small industrial complexes.
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“Equally, gas-based industries, like petroleum (fertilizer, methanol etc) are to be enabled to support large industries, such as agriculture, industrial applications, textile and so on.
‘’This approach has been considered from a legal, technical, economic, commercial and developmental standpoints and its unique opportunity to attract major investment in economically viable gas projects.
“Therefore, in an effort to stimulate finance to this critical sector, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, has introduced a N250 billion intervention facility to help motivate investment in the gas value chain,” Nabasu explained.
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He said the facility was available to finance gas processing plants and small scale petrochemical plants, gas cylinder manufacturing plants, L-CNG re-gasification modular systems, auto gas conversion kits or components manufacturing plants, CNG primary and secondary compression stations, and micro distribution outlets and service centres for LPG sales.
Giving details of access to the fund, the Technical Adviser, Gas, to the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Brenda Ataga, disclosed that of the 77 applications so far received, 27 were from high CAPEX section with obligor limit of N10 billion.
Ataga said on the small and medium scale enterprises, SME, section, with a limit of N50 million, 50 applications had been received, explaining that the SME portion was split into two categories: Startups and experienced applicants.
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She also disclosed that applicants would be evaluated in seven fundamental areas which they need to show evidence.
“The seven areas we will be assessing each application on are one, the technical feasibility of the applicant’s plan; two, the overall business plan; three, the skills and experience output of the business plan; four, the socio-economic impact of the business plan; five, the financial feasibility of the plan; the finance and economic model; and finally the environmental sustainability of plan because environmental preservation is a key aspect of our switch to gas as a country,” she explained.
Obas Esiedesa, Vanguard.
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