[NEWSCLICK NIGERIA INVESTIGATIONS] Climate Change: How soaring gas prices, power failure worsen Nigeria’s addiction to wood, coal fuel
By Femi Ajasa and Olaotan Falade
NB: This report was facilitated by Newsclick Foundation for Investigative Journalism (NFIJ)
At the most recent United Nations (UN) climate summit—the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties (COP26), held in Glasgow, UK where NewsClick Nigeria was accredited a media partner, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari lent his voice to that of other world leaders by pledging to cut carbon emission in his country to net-zero by 2060 and backed the move by signing into law the Climate Change Act (CCA) in 2021.
Unfortunately, the continuous rise in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG/cooking gas) assisted by worsening power supply appears to have thrown a spanner in the wheels of progress for Nigeria among the comity of nations who pledged to save the planet by limiting global warming.
Today, in adapting to their economic reality, Nigerians are ignoring LPG Gas, which is clean energy, and backsliding to pollution-heavy fuels (wood and coal) – a development that negates Nigeria’s commitment and response to the threat of climate change.
A market survey by NewsClick Nigeria in August showed that the average price of cooking gas in Lagos and Abuja averagely stands at N9,000, 7000, N3,700 and N2,100 for 12Kg, 10kg, 5kg, and 3kg respectively.
However, the average price of cooking gas per kg is ₦700/N750. The survey only reflects the price at which retailers sell and these prices differ across gas stations from state to state in the federation.
NBS Report: Rising trend in price of LPG (Over 100% increase Year-on-Year)
The price of household cooking gas known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) rose by over 100 percent Year-on-Year, the latest report from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed.
On a month-on-month basis, the average retail price for refilling a 5kg cylinder of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Cooking Gas) according to the report, increased by 7.57 percent.
According to NBS price watch data for June, 2022, the commodity’s price increased from N3,921.35 recorded in May 2022 to N4,218.38 in June 2022.
This implies a 103.93 percent increase from June 2021 where a 5kg gas sold for N2 069.
The report on state profile analysis, said Adamawa recorded the highest average price for refilling a 5kg cylinder cooking gas with N4,650, followed by Gombe with N4,566 and Niger with N4,540.
On the other hand, Zamfara recorded the lowest average price with N3,700 during the period, while Yobe and Kano had N3,820 and N3,875 respectively.
“In addition, the North-Central recorded the highest average retail price for refilling a 5kg cylinder of LPG with N4,378.95, followed by the North-East with N4,301.48, while the North-West recorded the lowest with N3,994.57,” the report added.
Similarly, the Bureau stated that the average retail price for refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas rose by 8.70percent on a month-on-month basis from N8,726.30 in May 2022 to N9,485.91 in June 2022.
On a year-on-year basis, it said the price rose by 121.17percent from N4,289.05 in June 2021.
Hike in price of LPG, Petroleum products not due to hostilities between Russia, Ukraine – Energy expert
Meanwhile, an energy expert, Mr. Zaka Bala has faulted claims that hike in price of petroleum products was due to the hostilities between Ukraine and Russia.
According to him, there was need for the country to scale up efforts at revamping the refineries.
“Anytime we are discussing energy security, I feel very disappointed when I hear some people tying global shortages to Nigeria rather than explaining why Nigeria is using the wrong model leading to our inefficiencies.
“If you look at the hostilities between Ukraine and Russia, I feel surprised when people try to justify why Nigeria should be experiencing energy insecurity. This is supposed to be a boom time for all countries that have crude oil or gas. The nations that are suffering are those without crude oil or gas
“Cooking gas is a product of crude oil, during crude oil refining one of the product to come out is LPG. In the case of Nigeria, we produce crude oil but we don’t refine internally, even in a family, you must first of all be able to feed your family before you think of outsider but in the case of Nigeria we cannot refine products internally and now that the price of crude oil is very expensive, they sell to refiners who will refine at higher prices, then Nigeria will go and buy at higher price and when they bring here , we will be complaining. There is no reason why LPG, kerosene, PMS, or diesel should be expensive”
On his part, Chinedu Ukadike, spokesperson of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) stated that the various initiatives of the government to deepen gas utilisation increased the demand for gas.
His words:”NNPC also came up with programmes to deepen gas utilization, the autogas, LPG, etc so alot of people converted to gas use including their generators so the demand for cooking gas became higher. On that ground what determines price is the factor of demand and supply.”
He urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the refineries saying: “Short term solution is for FG to declare a state of emergency on our refineries and ensure that the refineries are working, fix pipeline refineries and also encourage modular refineries. Also build a new state of the art refineries with modern technology.”
Newsclick Nigeria gathered from experts that LP Gas emits 50% less CO2 emissions than coal and 20% less than heating oil, making it ideal for use in heating and cooking. LPG also improves both indoor and outdoor air quality by substantially reducing pollutants that are hazardous to health, such as SOx, NOx, and Particulate Matter.
Cooking at a steep price: Wood, coal to the rescue
As the soaring prices of cooking gas become so unbearable, electricity is equally not an economically viable option for households – realistically, falling trees for wood fuel and relying on coals is the only alternative source of energy for cooking.
Choking on coal emissions daily is the everyday sacrifice of 55-year-old Mrs. Akapo, a food seller, popularly called ‘Iya Bose’ at Abiola Fadayomi Street, Ojota West area of Lagos State who has now abandoned her gas burners due to the soaring prices for the smokeless LPG – she now uses woods and charcoal in cooking the meals she serves her teeming customers.
Blind to this life threatening business model, which could result in respiratory illnesses, Akapo is rather comforted that she could make a better profit by relying on the carbon-intensive coal.
She disclosed to NewsClick Nigeria that she would have preferred gas which she once patronises but lamented she couldn’t cope with the hike in price of LPG in carrying out her daily business.
Her words, “I’m 55 years old. I’ve been a food seller for the past 15 years. I use charcoal because it is cheaper than Gas. I have a gas cooker which I use sometimes but I prefer using charcoal (coal pot). I use 2 bags of charcoal which cost N10,000 for 3 days. If I were to buy Gas for N10,000 (12KG) it can’t last me a day. I cook rice, beans, swallow, stew, and all kinds of food. I also make potato chips and I cook at least twice daily, so there is no way I can make a profit to care for my needs and that of my family if I use a gas cooker.
“As long as gas is still more expensive than charcoal, I’ll continue to use charcoal for my business. The disadvantage of using charcoal is that it makes my pot dirty and the heat emanating from charcoal tends to make me feel uncomfortable. Aside from those disadvantages, I love charcoal for my business. It may not be as fast as gas but it doesn’t burn my food.”
The story of Mrs. Chinelo Okafor who resides in Dutse Village, Lokogoma, Abuja is not so different.
Okafor said she now buys firewood instead of charcoal, because of the high cost of cooking gas.
“The harsh economic situation in the country has made things so difficult. So I have to settle for what is affordable. For me, buying wood works.” She noted.
However, a banker, Mrs. Titilayo, in Oyo State who refused to disclose her surname to NewsClick Nigeria, said she still preferred using gas, despite the high cost, stressing that coal or firewood can never be her option.
“The hike in LPG gas is disturbing, but how do I cope with the stains, smoke? I can’t stand the smoke that comes from firewood, where do I even get the time and space to set that in my kitchen. Moreover, there is no space in my house for a firewood setting for cooking,” Titilayo said.
When NewsClick Nigeria visited Guduwi village in Kabusa area of Abuja, a coal merchant who simply identified himself as Oyindamola disclosed that there has been an increase in demand for coal in the market.
Oyindamola, who argued that charcoal is one of the cheapest and safest means of cooking, explained that there has been a boom in the demand and price of coal, stressing that it’s no longer a product reserved for the poor.
“There is an increase in demand for coal now. It’s no longer a product that is meant for the poor alone. Before, we only got patronised by the poor and you can only see coals being used in suburbs for cooking. Things have changed now, we now supply cities, especially those who are in the food business chain.
“Those in the urban and semi-urban areas are all now buying firewood and charcoal to cook. You can’t compare the value one gets from coal to that of cooking gas. If you buy 4,500 bag of charcoal, it will last you longer than cooking gas will serve you.
“And we all know that the price of cooking gas keeps going up, and the more this continues the better people get to see how beneficial charcoal is. Charcoal is cheap and it is safer than cooking gas, it’s very rare to hear of fire incidents caused by charcoal.” He concluded
174 million people lack access to clean energy in Nigeria – Minister
Speaking on the crisis troubling the country, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva lamented the high level of energy poverty in Nigeria, stressing that the promoters of global energy transition must adequately consider factors such as energy security and economic development.
Sylva made the remarks in Abuja on Tuesday, April 2, 2022 at the Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum, with the theme, “Global Energy Transition: Implications on Future Investments in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.”
He said, “As we all know, Nigeria is still bedeviled with energy poverty. Nigeria currently has one of the highest rates of energy poverty in the world.
“Some estimates put it that only about 55 percent of over 200 million people in Nigeria have access to electricity, while only 13 percent have access to clean cooking.”
Analysing the minister’s statement, 13 per cent translates to 26 million, hence about 174 million people across the country lack access to LPG.
Medical doctor identifies dangers of coal, firewood emissions
Dr Rufus Muyiwa is a medical officer at Adeoye Memorial Specialist Hospital, Ibadan. He also worked at Christus Specialist Hospital, Ibadan
He made the following submissions on the dangers of coal, firewood emissions in a recent interview with Newsclick Nigeria.
“Coal is known to be basically used as the main source of energy especially In generating electric power in some advanced countries , but hardly used as a cooking fuel. Although, due to its regional availability, it’s seen as an inexpensive source of cooking fuel in some regions.
“The use of coal as a cooking fuel is staunchly dissuaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to it being a major air pollutant and its use guarantees the emission of some toxic and carcinogenic elements. Constant coal burning has been associated with various household air pollution and its toxic emissions have been connected with major health hazards, some non-communicable diseases like Stroke, Ishaemic Heart Disease, Lung Cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), other communicable diseases like Lower respiratory tract infections including childhood Pneumonia, have been implicated.
“According to WHO, close to 4 million die prematurely from these illnesses attributed to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices using coal.
Among these 4 million deaths:
27% are due to pneumonia
18% from stroke
27% from ischaemic heart disease
20% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
8% from lung cancer. (WHO)
“In addition these toxic emissions and the elements released have been implicated in inflammation of the airways and lungs, impairing immune response and reducing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
“There have been strong claims that link household air pollution from coal and other solid fuels with other health issues like low birth weight, tuberculosis, cataract, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers.
“Black carbon (sooty particles) and methane emitted by inefficient coal combustion are powerful climate change pollutants which can cause acid rain, global warming, and have severe effects on environmental and public health impacts.
Owing to the health challenges and the threats burning coals constitute to individuals and to the world in general, efforts should be made in diverting from coal as a cooking fuel to more safe means of cooking fuels, readily available and inexpensive.”
Coal for Power: Investments, expansions in mining for energy sustenance
The huge demand for energy in Nigeria which remains unattended does not only affect households alone – big corporations are also suffering.
To curb power supply challenge, Nigeria made a return to coal in 2015 by granting licences to local and foriegn companies to mine coal and increase the power generation capacity in the country.
At the time, licences were granted to 36 companies with the aim of generating 10,000 MW of electricity, but no improvement or progress has been made as at the time this report was filed.
In 2021, a lawmaker at the Federal House of Representatives, Patrick Nathan Ifon, moved a motion that the House committee on power should investigate why the companies granted licences have since abandoned the sites while a few who are still operational only mine coal to sell in other parts of the country, which violates their contract agreements.
The motion said coal-fired power plants were supposed to have been built in Kogi, Nasarawa and Benue states, all located along Nigeria’s coal-rich central belt.
Nigeria’s current peak power generation hovers around 5,000 MW, as opposed to demand of 25,790 MW, according to the motion.
Among the companies fingered by Ifon include Rock Bottom Mines and Power, Babs Allan Ltd, Dangote Mining Co, Mosra said Enerji Ltd and Dransy Energy Generating Co Ltd.
When NewsClick Nigeria, set out to unearth the mysteries behind the failures of the government’s policy to improve power generation by backing coal mining, it was discovered that most of the companies licensed to mine coals are the primary consumers of the locally-mined product to power their plants amid disruptions caused by gas shortages and lower its production costs.
Activities in the main mining sites in Kogi are not in top gear since it’s for commercial use but have reduced drastically in the last few weeks despite continued scarcity of petroleum products across the country.
A visit by the Newsclick Nigeria Team to the mining sites located in Okaba in Okaba District of Ankpa Local Government Area in Kogi State revealed that mining explorations by Koyla Energy and Mining Ltd, Dangote Coalmine Company and Eta Zuma Mining and Industries Limited, the major operators in the area, were not majorly for commercial purpose but for the primary consumptions of the companies conglomerate.
Though dodgy in offering our correspondent full details as to why there has been a deceleration in their operations, some staff of Koyla which operates on the Odagbo Community mining site said that it was due to excavation activities on new parts of the location.
“In addition to the new sites, there is also a road construction through Okobo, an adjoining village to Ankpa town because of reoccurrence of disagreements between youths of Okaba Town and Koyla Company whenever coals are being exported through their roads,” a staff told our correspondent in confidence.
He also told our correspondent that Koyla has been transporting the coals mined from the Odagbo sites to their Kaduna Office where they are being utilized for production activities.
Mining Head of the Company, Mintu Dubey – an expatriate was on site while our reporter was there but came up with several excuses ranging from draining a water logged part on one of the areas where the road construction was taking place to supervising other exploration activities.
At the Eta – Zuma site, the staffers were seen going about when our reporter got there with no vehicle seen either offloading or bringing in any coals, the reporter said they were working on gathering some of the products as production has been down for sometimes.
“For some days now, we have been doing more of field work than doing actual mining or conveying mined coals to the market. The demand for the product has remained constant, but the availability is where the problem is,” a staff member who informed this reporter said his head of site was unavailable.
At Onupi and Awowo where Dangote Coalmines Company operates, there were skeletal activities with the staff coming to work as late as 10: 00 am, a resident informed NewsClick Nigeria that this timing was late if exploration was ongoing.
A security man on duty informed our reporter that production was down due to attention being given to other sites located in Benue State, stressing that activities might pick up at another time.
Miners glory and untold hardship on communities
Meanwhile, as these companies continue to enjoy the resources nature has deposited in these communities, the people have continued to suffer the consequences of the exploration activities of the miners.
No one is probably as bitter as the immediate past National President of Awo – Akpali Community Association, Mr. Adejoh Ibrahim Samuel who told our correspondent that the negative impact of the mining activities of the miners is more than any positive benefits.
By January 2016, Dangote mining firm had invited two community representatives – Elder Daniel Adejoh and a chief from Awo – Akpali to sign CDA after several years of back-and-forth, crisis and other forms of disagreements.
Ironically, the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIRECO) Office which represents both State and Federal officials in Kogi was reportedly in the dark, they were unaware of the agreement.
The agreement had to be revisited as it lacked a lot of contents that should take care of the environmental impact their activities were having on the community in general.
Mr. Samuel said when the miners first came, they promised many things which they never fulfilled.
“Even when they signed the first Community Development Agreement (CDA) which was faulted by the Kogi State Mineral Resources Management Committee (MIREMCO) because of many errors especially the fact that there was no timeline for honouring of any of the components, they did not take us serious as a people.
“After several engagements and underhand antics employed by Dangote Company which almost frustrated stakeholders involved, another date was scheduled after which an agreement was signed between the community and the company,” he emphasized.
He was however full of praise for the company for grading of their access roads and provision of a borehole even though he added that the population of the community is more than the borehole can adequately cater for.
‘They gave us just one borehole which could not serve the entire population.’
Solomon Ismaila, a youth in the community said the company has created a lot of untold hardship on them and damaged many lives because their focus was on what they could get rather than ensuring improvement in the quality of lives of the people of the community.
His position was re – echoed by Eleojo Innocent who stated that the activities of the mining contaminated their water by the stream which supplied more than eight towns and surrounding communities.
According to Mr Samuel who spoke to our correspondent earlier, the stream supplied water for domestic use to towns and villages including Awo – Akpali, Awo – Udaba, Awo – Akwuda, Awo – Efagbo, Awo – Efiga, Awo – Olikpojikpo, Awo – Anekpa, Awo – Garage, Awo – Akpolokuta, but that it has been contaminated and there has not been reliable alternative for the people.
“There are communities that are downstream who are also being affected by the same mining activities because their own water systems too are being affected. The one single boreholes provided each of the host communities of Awo – Akpali, Awo – Akpolokuta and Awo – Udaba and Awo – Olikpojikpo have been having issues, denying the people access to potable water.
“While some have been able to mobilize resources to have theirs repaired, others have not and it is telling immeasurably on the lives of the communities. Like in Awo – Akpali which is the foremost host Community, the water source (borehole) has been having issues and the people are just frustrated. All the Boreholes provided Awo, no one is working effectively except that of Awo – Olikpojikpo that they are managing.”
Speaking, Emmanuel Omebije stressed that the community development agreement stated that the company was to provide a health facility for the community within the first six months. It was the same position alluded to by the former President of the town who said they have failed to provide them with a functional health facility almost two years after agreement signing.
“Before the advent of the mining companies and their operations in our community, we have never experienced dryness or lack of water in our villages and towns. But in the last three years, it has not been easy for us to get water supply.
“They were supposed to have mined some meters away from the stream, but they didn’t care and so they mined the land even into the stream, emptying the water source for the people.
“According to the agreement, they were also supposed to provide us with a community health clinic that is supposed to be equipped to some extent, but as we speak, they are yet to complete the building talk more of equipping it.”
On his part, Shehu Adejoh said the block of classrooms the company managed to build for their community does not have furniture and other basic equipment for such a structure. “In fact, the entire project is not up to standard. They are just playing with our, people each time we ask questions.”
Mr Samuel noted: “We have been having respiratory problems and other health challenges since the company started operation in our community. There was a time where miscarriages became prevalent with our women. When we suspected it may have been as a result of usage of the water in our stream, we asked our women to stop using the water and it helped in reducing the level of miscarriage.
“We cannot scientifically establish the relationship between the miscarriages and the operations of the company yet, but a sample of water taken from our stream indicated the presence of a high concentration of lead.
“We also suffer high levels of noise, sand and other chemical and environmental effects that have led to the death of our crops, many of which are economic trees. Before now, we used to enjoy some of the best fruits.
“The farmers still engaging in farming close to the site and surrounding areas no longer enjoying the type of boom they were used to before the operations of the company.
“Those close to the mining pit are worst hit. They can no longer use their water and their lands and plantations have been condemned as a result. My plantain plantation is already down and since four years ago.
“Currently their activities have gone down with some pits left unreclaimed which is another thing that cause danger to the environment.
“In the Mining Act, it has been stated categorically that wherever a mining activity takes place, it should be reclaimed before another mining activity can take place there. In the case of Dangote Coalmine Company, nothing like that was done and it is affecting our land in no small way.
“There are a lot of open pits with threatening water taking place.
“Most of their machines have been moved to Gbokolo in Benue State with some of them in Onupi. We have the feeling that there may not be any mining activity in this area in some weeks to come. Currently they are not doing any mining.”
Dangote Coalmine Company had operated on the minefield with no recourse to the CDA for about ten years.
Youths of Odagbo village had in November 2021 prevented the staff of Koyla Energy Limited from operations at their site during a peaceful protest for allegedly reneging on an earlier agreement with members of the community on issues of employment.
Video footage from the scene of the protest as recorded by one of the villagers showed about nine or ten Toyota Hilux and a Hiace buses driving out of the road after they were prevented from entering the mine site.
Abdullahi Ibrahim who was part of the protesting members of the community said indigenes of the town were at home without jobs while their land is being destroyed, and without basic social amenities – including road, water and others.
Ibrahim, who was one of the applicants, claimed that the company’s human resources official insulted members of the community which provoked the youths.
Dangote Coalmine Company started coal exploration in Onupi village in 2014 without proper community consent – an exercise against the mining regulation.
Efforts by Newsclick Nigeria to reach Dangote Coalmine Company for reactions/comments was unsuccessful as at press time.
Nigeria launches Energy Transition Plan (ETP)
In the build-up to the 27th Conference of Party (COP 27), Nigeria recently launched its energy transition plan (ETP) as one of its major approaches to reducing emissions, tackling poverty, addressing climate change and building a more sustainable economy.
This comes months after the ETP was unveiled at the 26th conference of parties (COP 26) high-level event in Glasgow as part of the country’s net zero commitments.
According to the ETP, natural gas plays a critical role as a transition fuel in Nigeria’s net-zero pathway, despite opposing views on stopping the usage of all fossil fuels. However, the plan indicates that gas consumption will grow by about 25 per cent above the 2019 baseline by 2030 and then begin to decline to about 50 per cent of the 2019 value as 2060 approaches.
During the launch, Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo said the ETP will deliver sustainable development goal seven (SDG7) by 2030 and net zero by 2060. He said it would also lift 100 million people out of poverty, reduce Nigeria’s carbon footprint, drive economic growth and create jobs.