LPG can be used as a trasportation fuel, chemical feedstock, or for agricultural purposes. Using LPG in other sectors apart from the domestic sector will increase national LPG consumption. 

By Oreoluwa Owolabi

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The development of science and technology results in the discovery of more applications of an already existing resource (for instance, grain drying with propane). Favourable government policies enable these technologies to become main stream (such as Autogas in the Netherlands). In a previous article, The Case for Gas, some applications of natural were mentioned such as the application of gas to power generation and transportation. In this article, an overview of various application of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the world and how it can be incorporated in Nigeria, and Africa at large, will be undertaken.
LPG is composed of propane and butane, which are combined in different ratios (e.g. Nigeria uses a 95% butane and 5% propane specification), and these ratios determine how the fuel will burn. LPG is normally liquefied under pressure for transportation and storage.  The World Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (WLPGA) describes LPG as a clean-burning, sustainable and efficient fuel and a vital source of energy for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world today. Nigeria with a population of about 200 million people, consumed just 840,000 tonnes of LPG in 2019, which means the per capita consumption of LPG is currently 4kg. This is an increase from the per capita consumption of 2.3kg reported in 2016 which was less than the Sub-Saharan LPG per capita consumption of 2.5 kg.

The World Bank group (2018) indicated that Africa has an average per capita consumption of LPG of 3 kg per year. Africa had a population of approximately 1.3 billion people in 2018, leading to an estimated total LPG consumption in Africa of 3.9 million tonnes in 2018.  When compared to the global LPG consumption of the same year, which was 300 million tonnes, the African market is negligible in the grand scheme of things. It stands to reason that African consumption of LPG is low because it is not diversified.
The major use of LPG in Africa is as a domestic fuel for cooking, with the domestic sector making up 85% of LPG consumption in Africa in 2014, while the domestic sector only made up 45% of global LPG consumption in 2014. Admittedly, consumption patterns have changed since 2014 but there is no data available to indicate that Africa’s application of LPG has changed considerably. Africa’s lack of diversification can be linked to its low level of industrialization. In 2016, the United Nations (UN) reported that the continent accounted for 3% of the global manufacturing output in the 1970s but that has since been halved. Also, in the agricultural sector, there is little mechanization, leading to low productivity. The industrialization of Africa will, like a ripple effect, lead to more non-domestic demand for LPG, which will result in a growth in total LPG consumption in Africa.

Source: WLPGA (2016), The role of LPG in supporting African Development.

Source: WLPGA (2016), The role of LPG in supporting African Development.

It is necessary to look into a few applications of LPG (apart from cooking) that will be useful in Africa, Nigeria in focus. LPG is clean and efficient fuel, offering benefits to the consumers, industry and environment. LPG can be used in transportation, in commercial business, industry, farming, domestic heating and cooking, and for recreational purposes. A few of these applications are explained below:

  1. Transportation: Automotive Gas (Autogas) is the term describing LPG used as a fuel for motor vehicles. A comparison between LPG, diesel and petrol was carried out by Nuhu Yakubu (Nigeria LPG Association) on a on a 25KVA generator set producing 37HP for one hour, and it was proven that LPG is more cost efficient than petrol and diesel. Every litre of Autogas used instead of petrol saves 27 naira. Nigeria consumed 21 billion litres of petrol in 2019; hence 567 billion naira would have been saved if Autogas used instead of petrol.

Figure 3. Comapirson between liquid fuels.

Source: Nuhu Yakubu, Autogas; is Nigeria Ready?

  1. Agriculture: in 2018, 70% of farming in Africa was subsistence farming without much commercialization. Most farmers use crude tools, relying on hoes and cutlasses, thereby leading to low productivity rates. In Africa, the average level of productivity in a corn farm is 1.5 tonnes per hectare, but the Cinnamon Ridge Farms, for instance, produces 22 tonnes per hectare due to proper mechanization techniques. Cinnamon Ridge Farms is a 2,000 hectare farm which grows soy, maize and other crops in the United States of America. The farm is highly mechanized, with tractors, ploughs and combined harvesters, having only 11 workers. Also, in Nigeria, 45% of food produced spoils due to inadequate storage facilities. The initial cost of purchasing equipments and installing the necessary infrastructure (e.g. tractors, or grain dryers) to assist production and storage might be too high for the farmers to bear but the cost of maintenance can be borne by the farmers, especially if they are fuelled by LPG.

Some current applications of LPG on farms include:

  • Heating with constant temperature control (LPG allows for excellent temperature control).
  • Fuel for all kinds of farm vehicles e.g. tractors, low-riding lawnmowers, etc.
  • Propane-flame weed control.
  • Propane grain dryers which uses half the thermal energy as conventional fuels to remove moisture from harvested grain.
  • Propane fuelled irrigation engines (cleaner than conventional fuels).           


  1. Industrial: LPG is a versatile fuel with widespread applications, because it has a high calorific value (i.e. it burns hotter than natural gas). This quality makes it preferable for a ‘mains’ gas. It can be used in various industries such as food to leather, to glass/ceramics, to concrete, to mining as well as aerosol, amongst many others. Brief descriptions of some industrial uses include:
  • Aerosol industry: an aerosol formulation is basically a mix of solid/liquid particles dispersed in a gas. LPG is required to act as a propellant for the particles as it is colourless and odourless. LPG does not contain any ozone depleting substances, making it environmentally safe; hence it has replaced the ozone depleting CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) gases previously used. For this, LPG can be used in sprays such as air fresheners, perfumes, etc.
  • Chemical industry: LPG can be processed into chemicals such as ethylene, propylene, butylenes, etc in order to produce synthetic plastics, fibres, etc. LPG is also a feedstock in the pharmaceutical, dye and explosive industries. LPG is used as a steam boiler in the production of rubber. LPG is also a great replacement for CFCs in refrigerators.


  1. Energy: LPG enables highly efficient, decentralized power generation. This is achieved through small self-containing generators and micro-combined heat and power. This decentralization is made possible due to LPGs easy handling. LPG complements renewable energy sources whose efficiencies vary based on seasonal conditions. Currently, engineers are devoting time into perfecting LPG hybrid appliances, where LPG is used to generate electricity in combination with photovoltaic power generators or heat pumps.


It is without doubt that LPG is an efficient and a versatile product. The above listed applications of LPG are few amongst other applications which can be put to work in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria plans to increase the national LPG consumption to 5 million tonnes by 2023, this can be made possible by also convincing existing and incoming industrial facilities managers, farmers, energy providers, amongst other sectors to use LPG  in their processes.
Much infrastructure is needed to achieve this feat, and such investments will not go unrewarded. The call for the industrialization of Africa has become louder than ever; this industrialization will come with increased demand for LPG; hence investing in LPG will yield long term profit.
KiakiaGas Limited is a leading Gas business in Lagos,Nigeria with expertise in LPG retailing, New Gas Market development, Building of Gas Plants and Gas strategy advisory
If you need a partner with hands-on local expertise in the Nigerian Gas space or any of our bespoke solutions/services, write us at gaspreneur@kiakiagas.com or call/Whatsapp: +2348085269328 

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