Nigeria has launched a scheme to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) to regions not linked by pipeline, supplying power plants and industry with cheaper, cleaner fuel, officials said.

Nigeria, a major oil producer, lacks refining capacity, so most crude is exported and the West African nation imports gasoline and other refined products. A creaking power network also means firms often rely on expensive diesel generators.

The government has said it wants to use more of its gas.

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Under the new plan, the state oil firm, the Nigerian unit of France’s Total and Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria Ltd (GACN) would deliver gas to a small LNG plant run by Nigeria’s Greenville LNG, officials said in speeches at the launch.

Greenville would deliver the gas to industries and companies around the nation using trucks which would themselves be powered by LNG, the officials said.

“Greenville will transport products with specialized LNG trucks, which have the capacity to travel about 1,000 km on LNG before refueling,” GACN Managing Director Morgan Okwoche said.

He said LNG was cheaper and lighter to transport than other fuel, so would damage roads less. The trucks could supply areas not linked by pipeline to create what he called a “virtual pipeline” network.

Nigerian Oil Minister Ibe Kachikwu said investors “have been looking for how to be able to access and distribute gas in the absence of pipelines.”

“This is not to take the need away from the pipelines, we are going to continue to work on providing pipelines,” he said.

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