[Stoves] [stove] Report from Nigeria

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott crispinpigott at outlook.com
Mon Dec 7 21:04:05 MST 2015

Dear Paul and All


The kerosene subsidy in Nigeria is about $1.1 bn a year, less than half of
which goes to actual subsidies on fuel. 


Kerosene can be burned extremely cleanly and the heat transfer efficiency is
comparable with that of LPG so from an energy point of view there is no
difference. LPG is not made from flare gas in Nigeria, though it is possible
to do so with a large investment which no one wants to make in the current
energy industry climate.


Subsidising very clean burning wood pellet burning stoves would, overall
have more benefit than tossing subsidies at gas products for the simple
reason that compressed gas is a very inefficient way to move energy around.
The containers are energy intensive to make, move and return to source. In
many cases public transport will not allow the containers in the vehicle or
charge additionally to carry them.  In many countries there is aversion to
compressed gas because of occasional explosions which is a gas burner issue,
not an energy carrier issue, but people blame the fuel anyway. As everyone
knows, kerosene is blamed for the combustion efficiency of the stove or
lantern, even though very good products have been on the market for many


In the same way, wood and coal are blamed for the poor performance of the
combustor into which they are placed. Thus if one agrees that blaming the
fuel for the LPG burner dangers is wrong, why should it be different when
discussing other fuels? There is nothing magical about LPG. If you can
afford to buy it, move it around and return the containers, go ahead.


It is interesting to consider that the greatest danger to the plans of the
LPG lobby is really clean and fuel-efficient kerosene, wood and coal stoves.
In other words, the worst nightmare for promoters of LPG is exactly what is
entering the market through the concerted efforts of the stove designers:
stoves burning alternative fuels as cleanly and efficiently as LPG.  


I recently reported on a wood pellet burning stove that seems to be
consistently cleaner (PM) than LPG (as reported by India). That is
impressive and is not anticipated by the arguments below. Why then is there
no parallel call for such technologies to be popularised? It doesn't even
have to be subsidised, right? Take some of the 550 million tons of biomass
from agricultural wastes in India and make them into charcoaled pellets and
biomass pellets suitable for good stoves of modern design. Why not? Why
should that fuel be wasted while scarce LPG is subsidised to those same


Why is the comparison of LPG to other fuels always based on the stove
technologies of 10 or 20 years ago? 


The issue of IAQ and cooking, where it exists, can also be addressed with
vents, hoods and chimneys - simple local solutions available from local
merchants. There is no requirement to implement 'subsidised' solutions for
every change in the market. Sometimes it only needs a better idea, or for
good ideas to be popularised at low cost - certainly at no long term cost.


LPG is supply-constrained: not enough bottles, outlets, filling stations,
and there is generally a global shortage. It is an industry with a tendency
to monopoly tactics with respect to pricing - witness the sudden global
'shortage' in mid-2008, which was 'solved' by a big jump in price.


For biomass supply, there was a warning in 1984 in a WB report that Nigeria
was about to run out of biomass fuel. Three decades later there are 5
million new households per year and the situation is still "soon there will
be no more biomass fuel".  As many will recognise (some won't) the greening
of the Sahel and the southern Sahara since 1983 continues in part from the
cyclical (60 year) change in the rainfall and the elevation of CO2 which
fertilises all biomass production (an unrecognised benefit). There are no
available data sets on the biomass resource base and nothing at all is being
done to increase the fuelwood supply. It could easily be doubled if that
were a priority, and at a low cost. The new biomass could be used to make
pellets, for example, at a much lower cost creating, decentralised,
job-creating fuel industries.


The comparison to Indonesia is relevant. The cost to the nation of
subsidising LPG is 30% of the turnover. It is many billions of $ that could
rather be applied to other development objectives. That money could be used
in Nigeria to turn flare gas into LPG, for example, increasing the tight


I am reflexively suspicious of any call for subsidised LPG from the industry
itself, having had to deal with LPG lobbyists when drafting kerosene stove
performance standards. Their method was to try to make the kerosene stove
requirements as complicated and expensive as possible. When the discussion
turned (quite rightly) to having LPG stoves meet the same safety standards
as they advocated for kerosene, they quickly disappeared from the process.


The bottom line for fuels and specifically cooking fuels is that each
country or province should make policies that most appropriately address the
needs and opportunities available at the time. That may include any fuel or
processing that is deemed politically, environmentally, socially or
economically reasonable. The landscape varies widely, influence by factors
that include the recent history of energy carrier subsidies.





Disclosure: None of my work or travel or activities is funded by any oil,
gas, wood, coal or other fuel industry or their representatives. I licence
the manufacture, on a micro-enterprise scale, of two biomass-burning cooking
stoves of my own design, neither of which is intended for burning biomass






The message below came from Kirk Smith via his Stove (singular word)
ListServ.   So I am forwarding it and (later) some other messages of
interest about LPG for clean cooking stoves.  

LPG for cookstoves was a point of discussion at the GACC Forum in Ghana last
month.   Ghana has recently (a few years back) discovered and is using gas
deposits.   Discussions included lamenting the promotion of a fossil fuel
LPG instead of renewable biomass.   The counter points include 1)  abundant
gases that are just being flared (so use them), and 2)  that developed
countries should not be working against the developing countries utilizing
fuels that helped build the West.  

Not an easy or quick resolution.   "Stovers" (biomass types, mainly) need to
be aware of such alternatives and issues.

See Kirk's message below with Nigerian kerosene data. and ask yourself:  
Given that solutions exist (LPG, micro-gasifiers, and more) for the solving
of the clean cooking problems of health and more, What numbers of deaths
(and other hardships) are inflicted upon one's own people by corrupt
government and selfish business interests?    


Doc  /  Dr TLUD  /  Prof. Paul S. Anderson, PhD  
Email:  psanders at ilstu.edu <mailto:psanders at ilstu.edu>    
Skype: paultlud      Phone: +1-309-452-7072
Website:  www.drtlud.com <http://www.drtlud.com> 

On 12/6/2015 1:54 AM, Kirk Smith wrote:

I am just returning from nearly a week  in Lagos where I gave the keynote
address at the Nigeria LP Gas Association annual meeting.  (My slides can
be downloaded  from the website below - see "Talks.)  Spent the rest of the
time visiting LPG facilities, slum and small-town household kitchens, and
the energy people at Lagos University.   (I might note that I used personal
funds for the travel)


The household fuel situation in Nigeria is quite anomalous by comparison to
other West African countries or other parts of the world.   For its level of
development, it has both a high use of biomass (66% -- see pie chart below)
and low LPG use (5%), in spite of being 50% urban  and having the 7th
largest gas reserves of any country.   Annual use of LPG, for example, is
just about 1 kg per capita, far below the West African average of 4+ even
though richer than the average and having more than half  of the population
of the region, thus driving down the average.   It actually exports 85%  of
the LPG it produces, when there is clearly suppressed demand in the country.


One reason is the high continued use of kerosene as a cooking fuel - 27%.  (
I do not know of a country that today has a higher kero use for cooking, but
please let me know of any.  Given  its size, Nigeria must in any case
contain a large percentage of all kero cooking in the world)  This is due to
a heavy long-term untargeted subsidy for kero and consequent strong
entrenchment of special interests that make billions of dollars from it
annually.   I was told that at least 2 recent presidential elections were
"bought" by the kero lobbies.  As elsewhere, much or even most of the
subsidy benefit actually accrues to special interests and owners of diesel
trucks because of diversion.  (as most of you know, household kero use has
high impacts  on health and climate per unit useful energy)


Nevertheless, there seems real opportunity for a large-scale expansion of
LPG, in two major phases


--First to substitute LPG  for kerosene following  something like the highly
successful effort by Indonesia to do so starting in 2007.   Like there, it
would save the Nigerian gov substantially by eliminating the kero subsidies,
which are bad for health, climate, and economy.  Monthly LPG costs,
unsubsidized, are actually cheaper than subsidized kero If up-front costs
can be handled, the recurring costs of LPG are less that kero due to much
higher efficiency, even if unsubsidized.   Like Indonesia, there would have
to be, sometimes painful, accommodation of the special interests, as  well
as easing the transition by poor households through provision of the first
cylinder and stove.  


--Second would be a  major expansion of LPG into  wood-using areas focusing
first in the north where massive deforestation is occurring due to fuel
gathering (as well as overpopulation and climate change).   See map below.
Perhaps somewhat along the lines of  targeted subsidies as is happening in
India.    In  this case, there would be a serious carbon benefit with
potential international funds to assist.


The optimism that something may happen is not only due to the rising obvious
perversity of the current situation,  but also that the new gov here, the
first to actually directly clamp down on corruption in decades,  is giving
most people I spoke with renewed hope for turning the country around and is
focused on such social programs.  They speak of a ~14x (!) increase of LPG
demand in 10 years -- from 5 to 50% coverage with a  rising population.
Ambitious to be sure, but the kind of effort needed.


Another 115 million more people that could have clean fuels before too
long!.  I might note that even though already the 7th most populous country
in the world, Nigeria has one of  the highest fertility rates and may reach
900 million by 2100 (from ~185 million now) and will be 3rd largest in the
world by 2050.  Thus, a good proportion of the population in the world we
most want to protect from household air pollution, babies and pregnant
women, will be in Nigeria.  


An even greater incentive to start soon./k


p.s. Ethanol is another option as a clean fuel for which Nigeria has special
advantages being a major producer of cassava, an excellent renewable source.
At present, however, there is not even enough production to cover food needs
and thus no  capability to expand into fuel.  This could change with a
concerted program, however, although a difficult case to make in a country
with so much domestic gas reserve and rapid population growth requiring more
food each year.


p.p.s,  Kero lighting is also widely used because of lack of reliable power
in many areas.   I was told, however, that rechargeable LED lamps are
rapidly replacing kero lamps, but I have not yet seen any data in support.



deleted during resending:   
A.  Pie chart with biomass at 56% and LPG at 5 % of Nigerian household

B.   Map of Nigeria showing wood fuel dominating in the northern half of the


Nigeria's cookfuel situation - very low LPG use in spite of having the 7th
largest gas reserves in the world.  Currently, 40% of gas produced is



North of the red line, deforestation and desertification are serious in
Nigeria due partly to fuelwood harvesting.

Kirk R. Smith, MPH, PhD
Professor of Global Environmental Health

Chair, Graduate Group in Environmental Health Sciences
Director of the Global Health and Environment Program
School of Public Health
747 University Hall
University of California
Berkeley, California, 94720-7360
phone 1-510-643-0793; fax 642-5815
krksmith at berkeley.edu <mailto:krksmith at berkeley.edu> 


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