By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government is seeking ways to ease the pressure on the Naira caused by the foreign exchange (FX) crisis with the local production of barite, which would reduce the importation of the product.
Barite is a weighting material in drilling muds used in oil and gas drilling, primarily to prevent the explosive release of gas and oil during drilling. It is also used in the plastic, rubber, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, papermaking and paint industries.
Speaking at the launching in Port Harcourt on Thursday, the Minister of Mines and Steel, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, said barite was among the seven strategic minerals designated for top-priority development by the ministry, adding that the initiative is poised to save the country millions of dollars spent importing barite.
Mr Adegbite said the ministry would commission an open marketplace portal that will connect all stakeholders along the Barite value chain to a hub that allows for easy coordination, stocking, effective costing and seamless sale of Barite.
The Minister said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has been unwavering in the support to the development of the solid minerals sector.
“We have facilitated the development of an industrial mineral roadmap to optimize Nigeria’s industrial minerals to meet the standards of the manufacturing, industrial and construction industry so as to reduce import dependency.
“The desire to facilitate local production of these minerals was geared towards conserving foreign exchange and creating jobs and wealth for the citizenry. Some of these minerals include calcium carbonate, kaolin, barite, gypsum, mica etc.
“With improved funding, spurred by the visionary leadership of Mr President, we have recorded remarkable results and progress with the roadmap objectives, which is evident in the launch of the Nigerian barite today.
“A major component of this initiative is the promotion of local content in the production, quality assurance and sale of Barite. I am aware that the bags of barite we are presenting today meets the American Petroleum Institute standard, which is the global benchmark accepted by the oil industry.”
Also speaking, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, commended the Ministry for putting the country among barite producing nations.
Mr Emefiele, represented by his Special Adviser, Mr Anthony Ifechukwu, affirmed that the era of sourcing for foreign exchange for importation of barite was over while pledging the support of CBN to the development of the solid mineral sector.
“I am particularly excited by the fact that the product we are launching today is called the “Nigerian Barite”, a brand I am optimistic will soon develop to be a dominant force in the barite space in Africa and even beyond.
“The benefits of this exercise cannot be overemphasized as Nigeria will now be a barite-producing country thereby bolstering our capacity to meet the needs of oil and gas firms in the supply chain.
“This activity will not only create jobs but will alleviate poverty, create new specialized skills and ultimately grow our economy’s gross domestic product (GDP). The multiplier effect on incomes and indirect jobs also makes this programme a game-changer for the economy especially as we enter the post-COVID-19 era.
“My presence here today is an affirmation of our support for the development of the solid strategic mineral sector.
“This historic launch is not only important to us at the CBN but quite timely because we have on our part been engagıng with stakeholders in the mining industry,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu Slams FG for High Cost of Cooking Gas
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
**Moves to Ramp up Supply, Crash Price
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has slammed the federal government for being behind the high cost of cooking gas in the country.
Speaking on Thursday at the commissioning of a 40 metric tons Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) refill plant in the Ikorodu area of the state, he attributed the rising price of gas to the introduction of 7.5 per cent VAT and foreign exchange (FX) crisis, a statement posted on the Facebook page of the state government disclosed.
According to him, these issues caused the spike in the price of the product, saying this was “unacceptable” in the face of the high cost of living.
However, he assured that this may soon be a thing of the past as his administration has taken a huge step to ramp up supply and make the product available to residents at cheaper rates.
The new plant in Ikorodu is operated by the state-owned energy firm, Ibile Oil and Gas Corporation (IOGC), and it is the fourth delivered by the corporation. Three other refill plants of varying capacities were built in the Amuwo Odofin, Alimosho and Iponri areas of the state.
The Governor disclosed that his administration decided to establish the plants to cut down the use of dirty fuels responsible for carbon emission and air pollution.
According to him, the energy project was initiated to key into the nation’s ambitious goal to develop the natural gas industry and encourage domestic use of safe cooking gas.
In Lagos, less than 30 per cent of households use gas for cooking. As an alternative to kerosene and charcoal, LPG is a clean-burning fuel that supports smoke-free indoor and outdoor cooking.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said the inclusion of gas into the state’s energy mix was critical to the continuous prosperity of Lagos, stressing that the project would not only transform the State into a gas economy and stimulate commercial growth but also enhance the quality of life by reducing carbon footprint in the environment.
The target, the Governor said, is to increase the supply of cooking gas in local communities, thereby raising domestic LPG usage from the current 25 per cent to about 80 per cent before the end of 2023.
He said: “The gas plant being commissioned today reflects the desire of our administration to align with the global action to reduce carbon emission and address the climate change challenge. One of the measures, which this gas plant will support, is promoting increased adoption of LGP for domestic use in Lagos.
“Our vision is to transit the State into a gas economy and ensure an energy mix that provides different fuelling options for residents with the introduction of Gas-for-Transport and Gas-to-Power projects. Expanding the domestic usage of LPG is critical to the continuous prosperity of Lagos and the attainment of our administration’s desire to transform the State into a 21st-century economy.”
Mr Sanwo-Olu said the increment in LPG price puts the nation at the risk of reversing all gains achieved from awareness of the advantages of using LPG for domestic cooking.
The Governor urged the federal government to reverse the trend in order to make the commodity affordable, while also increasing the availability of safe cooking gas in the country.
He said: “Not only are we excited with our modest intervention by Lagos in the LPG market, but it is also only when we reduce the cost of basic commodities such as cooking gas that the true dividends of democracy can be felt by the people.
“We have done a lot of advocacy for people to appreciate the benefit that comes with the use of gas for domestic cooking, such as reduction in carbon footprint, and improved quality of life. If we have made this great effort, the least the government can do is not to make the commodity unaffordable for the populace.”
The Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Olalere Odusote, said the plant was built with the highest safety standards, noting that the siting of the facility was deliberate to serve a large number of the populace.
He said the state had the plan to expand the gas facility to 20 units which would be spread across all divisions.
Managing Director of IOGC, Ms Doyin Akinyanju, said the gas plants developed by the corporation had the capacity to supply 20,000 homes within the radius of operation, adding that jobs were created for young people in the supply chain through the use of purpose-built vehicles for door-to-door delivery in neighbourhoods.
She said: “Nigeria has an abundant gas deposit that needs to be rapidly developed. Lagos also is blessed with two known offshore fields – Aje and Ogo – in Badagry with large gas deposits. IOGC is taking steps to develop a bulk offtake facility that will ensure gas security in Lagos, as well as provide a competitive pricing advantage.
“We will continue our sensitisation and awareness campaign in the neighbourhoods where we are located to take Lagosians away from the use of dirty fuels like firewood, charcoal, kerosene to Gas for cooking. Today, we start a new journey with cooking gas by creating a market that will make it safely accessible.”
Our Post-paid Customers Owe N115bn—JED Cries Out
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED) has said that post-paid customers across its franchise states are indebted to the company to the tune of N115 billion.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director of the company, Mr Hashim Bakori, who explained that the debt owed was different from the cost of energy losses as a result of energy theft.
He said this was discovered after 16 months of hard work after resuming office with his team as the new management of JED.
Mr Bakori disclosed this in Jos during the launch of the company’s 5-years Corporate Strategic Plan to kick start a new goal to be achieved by the organisation.
‘If nothing is done to bridge the gap, a lot will go wrong and that is why we are launching the Corporate Strategic Plan and by the time we are done, people will start seeing the improvement of energy supply across our franchise states.
“We have consulted reputable companies in the world to come and partner with us in moving the company forward.
“From today, you will see a very new Jos DisCo,” he said.
Mr Bakori, however, pointed out that despite the several efforts put in by the new management of JED, vandals and energy thieves still remain a challenge to the company.
“Despite these efforts, the company is currently bedevilled by some man-made challenges. These challenges range from vandalism and theft of our installations, energy theft to customers huge indebtedness to the company.
“In 2021 alone, vandals and thieves have torched about 200 distribution transformers, armoured cables, copper earth wires, transformer oil, feeder pillar copper bars, several spans of aluminium conductors, line insulators etc,” he said.
Headquartered in Jos, Plateau State, the company operates one of the longest distribution networks in the country. It caters to over 400,000 customers in the franchise regions of Plateau, Gombe, Bauchi and Benue States.
NUPENG Extends Planned Nationwide Strike by One Week
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has extended the 14-day ultimatum earlier given to the federal government by one week.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the union’s General Secretary, Mr Afolabi Olawale, in Lagos.
He said that in spite of the various interventions and engagements with government agencies and institutions, issues concerning the welfare of members and unfair labour practices by some oil majors had yet to be fully resolved.
Business Post had reported that NUPENG issued the 14-day ultimatum on November 15, threatening to embark on a nationwide strike due to what it called non-implementation of an agreement earlier reached with the government.
The issues at stake include non-payment of workers’ salaries and title benefits, among others.
In the latest statement, Mr Olawale said, “Leadership of the union is still exercising further patience and restraint to give the ongoing discussions the chances of resolving these issues once and for all.”
“The decision of the union to give another seven-day ultimatum should not be misconstrued as a sign of capitulation or weakness.
“Rather, it is a demonstration of our resolve not to inflict unnecessary pains on Nigerians or create any form of artificial scarcity of petroleum products,” he said.
The NUPENG general secretary urged the government and all other concerned entities to take advantage of the extension to do the needful.
“It is our hope that government does the needful and save the nation the pains and losses our industrial action will bring,” he said.
Oil majors had recently come under renewed scrutiny from many groups for their role in the country with issues ranging from employees welfare to oil spills to taxation.
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