Ondo, Benue, Kogi, Kebbi…four states likely to become Nigeria’s biofuel hubs soon

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it has signed deals with four states to build facilities that will collectively produce 317 million litres of biofuel every year, reports OGN.

Investments in largescale biofuel production is beginning to gain some footprints in Nigeria, but it is largely driven by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which recently disclosed that it was in negotiations with four Nigerian states to build processing plants.

NNPC stated that it had done about seven bankable feasibility studies on the biofuel projects it would embark on. These studies, it explained include three integrated sugarcane fuel ethanol projects in Benue, Kebbi and Gombe states, two integrated cassava fuel ethanol projects in Ondo and Anambra states and two integrated oil palm biodiesel projects in Rivers and Cross River States.

However, it said that Ondo, Kogi, Kebbi and Benue, were already in advanced conversations with it, and could by its estimation become the first hubs for biofuel production in Nigeria when investments and construction works are completed in them.

From the three states, NNPC expects to get 317 million litres of biofuel pumped into Nigeria’s fuel market annually, 26.416 million litres monthly, and 852,150 litres daily.

Speaking at the recent technology forum organised by Nigeria’s science ministry in Abuja, NNPC’s chief operating officer for gas and power, Mr. Seidu Mohammed, stated that agreements for these projects have been consummated and their rollout imminent.

“There is little that people know, that we are not only propagating oil and gas but we also make sure that we promote biofuels and other more efficient fuels in the country. What we have done today is sit down on the driver’s seat, not necessarily as the investor but to make sure that the people that are coming in are on board. Today we have signed four MoUs with state government to roll out initiatives around the biofuels,” said Mohammed.

The biofuel deals signed so far

One of the biofuel deals the NNPC has so far signed was that with Kogi state, wherein an ethanol processing plant capable of producing 84 million litres of bio-fuel annually would be built.

When the deal was signed by the NNPC and Kogi, NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the project would yield a cane mill and a raw and refined sugar plant of 126,000 tonnes annually.

Baru, explained that the bagasse co-generation plant would also generate 64 megawatts (MW) of power, in addition to the plant having a 2,000 tonnes per year capacity carbon dioxide recovery and bottling plant.

According to him: “The sugarcane feedstock plantation would be on a 19,000 hectares and it would produce animal feeds of 63,000 tonnes per year.”

The NNPC, Baru said was pleased to know that Kogi has Alape Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ), which he noted has a vast agro allied business opportunity that provides suitable agronomics for the cultivation of sugarcane, cassava and oil palm.

He said discussions had been held with the various parties and stakeholders on the Kogi biofuels project, and a modality for the implementation would be adopted.

He said a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up to guide the investment, adding that the project was key to Nigeria’s economic development through investments in portfolios that are environmentally sustainable, could mitigate climate change impacts and create wealth and job that could help reduce incidences of poverty.

“NNPC is committed to implementing Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement aimed at combating global climate change, to which President Muhammadu Buhari signed, and deposited Nigeria’s “Instrument of Ratification” to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in May 2017,” said Baru with regards to the project.

Another biofuel project the NNPC has also advanced talks on is that of Okeluse in Ondo state, which it signed agreements with the government. The plant would produce 65 million litres per annum of biofuel, with investments coming from foreign investors.

When NNPC signed the deal with Ondo, it disclosed that the construction of the plant and the production of cassava feedstock could create at least one million direct and indirect jobs.

It also said it would contribute to Nigeria’s plan to reduce its monthly petrol import, cut down its greenhouse gas emission, and boost production of animal feeds from its by-products.

“We have already discussed with you and you have agreed to make 15,000 hectares of land available towards the cultivation of this cassava. It will, of course, in the process invite people who are used to farming cassava as well as new entrepreneurs who want to go into that business to participate in the cultivation of the cassava that we are going to use for the production of the fuel ethanol.

“We expect that this plant, when built, will be producing at least 65 million litres per annum of fuel ethanol that could be blended into our Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and will be used in Nigeria and neighbouring countries when exported,” Baru, stated when he met with the governor of Ondo state, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.

The plant, Baru said would also generate 40MW of electricity, while the NNPC will commercialize its greenhouse gas emission reduction capability to win carbon credit for Nigeria.

Kebbi, also signed an agreement with the NNPC to build an 84 million litres per annum capacity fuel-ethanol plant in Kalgo and Koko Besse areas of the state.

NNPC said when it signed the deal that the Kebbi sugarcane and cassava-fuel ethanol plant would include the development of 20,000 hectares of an integrated plantation and plant complex.

It listed the benefits it was expecting from the plant to include creation of rural wealth, generation of 1,000,000 direct and indirect jobs, co-generation of about 64MW of bio-electricity to power the plant and light up the surrounding communities.

It also said the plant would reduce Nigeria’s greenhouse gas emission, produce refined sugar and industrial starch, in addition to animal feeds.

For Benue, NNPC said its biofuel plant there would create one million direct and indirect jobs and 84 million liters of biofuel every year.

It explained that 20,000 hectares of sugarcane feedstock plantation would be cultivated, while a cane mill and raw and refined sugar plant would also come up to produce 126,000 tons per year.

The bagasse cogeneration power plant of the project would also be able to generate 64MW of power, in addition to having a 2,000 tons per year carbon dioxide recovery and bottling plant.

Animal feeds worth 63,000 tonnes would also be produced yearly from the plant.

Biofuel global market statistics

A 2017 report of the World Bioenergy Association (WBA) – Global Bioenergy Statistics, stated that bioenergy currently accounts for 10 per cent of the energy supply or 14 per cent of the energy consumption of the world.

WBA also said that land has remained a factor for liquid biofuel production. It estimated that of the total land used for agricultural purposes, about 2.9 per cent is used for biofuel production.

Also, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), stated in a report that international prices of ethanol and biodiesel are expected to recover in nominal terms over a period given the recovery in prices of crude oil. It equally noted that global ethanol production could expand modestly from 116 billion litres in 2015 to 128.4 billion litres by 2025.

“Since the early 2000s, the development of global biofuel markets has been driven by policies fostering their production and use. Policies were initially motivated by a combination of factors, including the view that biofuel use would improve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

“Government support for the biofuel industry takes the form of blending mandates, exemptions from taxes applied to corresponding petroleum fuels, and investment support. Biofuel markets are also affected by sustainability criteria, fuel quality standards, and import tariffs on ethanol and biodiesel,” the FAO explained.

Notwithstanding, the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA), stated in another report by it, that Nigeria was amongst five African countries with substantial resource potential to sustainably expand supplies of liquid biofuels.

It noted that volumes of biofuel feedstock (in Nigeria) can be expanded through more systematic collection of agricultural residues, as well as through planting of sugarcane, other grasses and trees on land made available through more intensive cultivation of croplands and reduced waste and losses in the food chain.

“For every ton of crop produced, an amount of residues is available in the field after harvest, of which a fraction can be practically and sustainably collected. This fraction is typically assumed to be between a quarter and a half, so that enough residue is left behind to regenerate the soil. In addition, a share of residues is attached to crops when they enter processing plants, most of which can also be collected,” the IREAN report stated.

The NNPC however noted that its drive would not impact Nigeria’s agricultural sector negatively or reduce the amount of food the sector would produce for the country. It stated that its push would rather add value to the country.

Baru, in this regards explained that the supply of cassava-based foods for human consumption would not be affected. He stressed that the cassava that would be used for the biofuel project was a special breed that would not be in competition for human consumption or interfere with the activities of farmers cultivating other breeds of cassava or other crops.