The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Wednesday said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ondo State government to set up a 65 million litres per annum biofuel plant in Okeluse, Ondo State.
According to the state oil firm, the move would further ensure unimpeded supply of petroleum products and safeguard the environment through reduction of carbon emission.
NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, disclosed that the project is not a 100 per cent subsidiary of the NNPC, as some investors were also bringing in foreign direct investment into the country for the plant.
Baru said this while playing host to the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, who led a delegation from the state for the MoU signing ceremony at the NNPC headquarters in Abuja.
On the benefits of the project, Baru said the construction of the plant and the production of cassava feedstock could create at least one million direct and indirect jobs.
He said other benefits include reduction of fuel import, reduction of greenhouse gas emission to combat global warming, and a boost in the production of animal feeds from by-products of the plant.
He allayed fears of 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 or interfere with the activities of farmers cultivating other breeds of cassava or other crops.
Baru was quoted in a statement issued by the spokesperson of the corporation, Ndu Ughamadu, as saying “We have already discussed with you (Akeredolu) 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 and will be used in Nigeria and neighbouring countries when exported.”
Baru said the biofuel project would be fitted with a 40 megawatts electricity plant that would also supply power to the host communities.
The GMD noted that NNPC intended to commercialise the greenhouse gas emission reduction capability of the project to win carbon credit for the nation from the international community, adding that it could also make money from such by-product as industrial starch and others which could be converted to animal feeds to boost food production.
Akeredolu expressed confidence that the biofuel project would take off for the benefit of the people of the state and the country in general, according to the statement.
He said Ondo State had enough farmers as well as cassava to sustain the biofuel plant and that his visit was to show commitment to the project.
Present to witness the signing of the MoU were the Nigeria Export-Import Bank, New Partnership for African Development and National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency.