By Edith Ike-Eboh
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ondo State Government to establish a 65million litres per annum biofuel plant in Okeluse, Ondo State.
A statement issued on Wednesday by Mr Ndu Ughamadu, NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affair Division in Abuja said the MoU was signed on Tuesday when the Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, led a delegation from the state to the Group Managing Director Dr. Maikanti Baru.
Baru said the agreement was part of the commitment of the corporation to ensure unimpeded supply of petroleum products and safeguard the environment through reduction of carbon emission.
He explained that some investors would also bring in Foreign Direct Investment into the country for the project.
On the benefits of the project, the GMD was quoted as saying that the construction of the plant and the production of cassava feedstock could create at least one million direct and indirect jobs.
Other benefits, according to Dr. Baru, include reduction of fuel import, reduction of greenhouse gas emission to combat global warming, and boost in the production of animal feeds from by-products of the plant.
He also allayed fears of any possible negative impact of the plant on the supply of cassava-based foods for human consumption, adding that the cassava that would be used for the biofuel project was a special breed that would not be in competition for human consumption.
The GMD added that the project would not interfere with the activities of farmers cultivating other breeds of cassava or indeed other crops.
“Your Excellency, 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,” he said
He disclosed that the biofuel project would be fitted with a 40 megawatts electricity plant that would also supply power to the host communities.
He added that the NNPC intended to commercialise the greenhouse gas emission reduction capability of the project to win carbon credit for the nation from the international community,.
This, he said could also make money from such by-product as industrial starch and others which could be converted to animal feeds to boost food production in the country.
“The benefits of this project to Nigeria and specifically to Ondo State are immense and NNPC is very eager to see it implemented. We are working with the investors who will invest because there are several dimensions to the project,” Baru said.
Earlier, Governor Akeredolu, expressed confidence that the biofuel project would take off for the benefit of the people of the state and the country in general.
He assured that the state had enough farmers as well as cassava to sustain the biofuel plant, stressing that his visit was to show his commitment to the project.
Present to witness the signing of the MoU were the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM Bank), New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).(NAN)