Fresh Fuel Crisis Rocks Nigeria

Depots run dry of petrol

With N617 per litre, Nigerians beg for fuel as queues return to filling stations

. NNPC rations product, wants panic buying blamed 

. Fuel subsidy returns five months after Tinubu declared scheme gone forever 


Nigeria, Africa’s biggest exporter of crude oil, has been hit by a major fuel crisis that may worsen the anguish citizens have been going through.

Platforms Africa reports that the country, which ironically, doubles as the biggest importer of petroleum products, is grappling with supply shortage for premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol, for its over 200 million citizens as fuel depots are beginning to dry up due to rationing of supply from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).

Queues have already resurfaced in some filling stations in Lagos and parts of Ogun, despite an astronomical increase in the cost of the product by over 200 per cent in the last five months.

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The product, which sold around N187 per litre in the morning of May 29, skyrocketted to N617 per litre as at August due to the removal of subsidy on the product by President Bola Tinubu.

The noticeable emerging queues in many fuel stations is, baring unforeseen circumstances, expected to spread throughout the country and may soon become even more intense as oil marketers can no longer replenish their fast depleting stocks.

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Investigations by our reporters revealed that NNPC Limited, the sole importer of petrol, has drastically reduced fuel supply to Depot owners, thereby leaving independent marketers who rely on the Depot owners for their supplies stranded.

According to highly reliable downstream industry sources, NNPC, for reasons that are not yet clear, has now adopted a policy of supplying product to only depot owners with at least 50 fuel stations.

Although weeks back, NNPC Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari claimed that there was no need to panic as there was enough stock, in excess of 1 trillion litres, industry players are today troubled by the fact that NNPC now focuses its full attention on supplying products to only its retail outlets.

Further investigations show most retail stations in the country may run out of fuel supply in the days ahead as only about 60 percent of the Depot owners have up to 50 retail stations, which is the NNPC new criterion for being eligible to be supplied product.

“What we face now is an imminent collapse of the sector and a return to an era of acute fuel shortage with the attendant disruption to socio-economic life.

“With Depot owners not able to import product owing to shortage of dollar and now NNPC which earlier claimed to have enough stock not supplying to most marketers, you can imagine what the supply situation will be in the days ahead,” a source said.

Hardest hit by this latest unpleasant development are the independent oil marketers who have filling stations scattered all over the country but rely on Depot owners for their supplies.

“If the independent marketer with two or three stations in some strategic remote areas of the country cannot get supply and the big players can also not receive supplies from NNPC and with NNPC not having enough retail outlets to meet the fuel needs of Nigerians, it is obvious that we are returning to the era of serious fuel crisis”, the source added.

Industry operatives last night called on the federal government to take the NNPCL up on the actual fuel stock and supply situation in the country as the the company appears to have challenges beyond what it may be admitting in public.

“If indeed there is enough stock as NNPCL claimed weeks back, and realising that the Depot owners are now handicapped and unable to import because of the challenges of forex, what then will inform its decision to be rationing fuel at this critical point in time? NNPCL needs to come clean on this serious issue.” An oil marketers Executive noted last evening.

From all Indications, the federal government will have to move fast by either fast tracking its strategies of easing the forex crunch to enable Depot owners resume fuel importation or compel NNPC to flood the market with the product, if truly it has enough, or both.

Already, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) has confirmed a return of fuel subsidy but cautioned the Nigerian government’s decision to partially return the subsidy to curtail the rising price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), insisting that the short-term intervention must be targeted, affordable, well thought out, and time-bound and should not negatively impact the Nigerian economy in the long run.

Platforms Africa reports that Clement Isong, Chief Executive Officer, and Executive Secretary made this known in his presentation speaking on the theme” Energy transition, PIA, Petroleum pricing, and the way forward in the downstream sector” during the annual Nigeria Association of Energy Correspondents (NAEC) International Strategic Conference 2023 on Thursday in Lagos.

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