Why fuel scarcity may last until June 2023

Marcus Amudipe
Marcus Amudipe

Nigerian oil marketers have indicated that the current challenges with the distribution of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, may last until June of 2023.

The Nigeria’s downstream oil sector, have witnessed a worrisome trend of fuel scarcity since 2022.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, the country’s sole importer, has frequently lamented the heavy cost of bearing gasoline subsidies.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva claimed on Monday that NNPC was selling petrol at a loss because of its obligation to the Federal Government to provide fuel subsidies.

“If you are a businessman, look at it from this perspective, that you are now in the business where you are mandated to sell at a loss to the public. That is not an easy job, I must tell you,” the minister stated.

The Federal Government has budgeted around N3.6 trillion for fuel subsidies through June 2023, according to minister of finance, budget, and national planning, Zainab Ahmed.

In response to the news, oil marketers said on Wednesday that the government’s intention to withdraw gasoline subsidies in that month may cause the fuel supply problem in many areas of the country, which frequently results in fuel scarcity, to last until June.

In an interview with The PUNCH, the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, said that fuel imports and subsidy were making Nigerians suffer.

He said, “This issue of subsidy and the importation of petroleum products are the major reasons why we are suffering like this and having epileptic supply of PMS. This may drag till the current administration leaves in May or till June this year.

“The exchange rate is affecting fuel imports, which is also why the cost of petroleum products are high. We use too much naira to chase the few dollars that are available. So the solution is for us to refine our crude here and get our depots working.”

He added, “Also, we should note that most times when an administration is leaving, there is usually scarcity of products. It happened during the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“This is because suppliers will be very weary of selling petroleum products so that their debts will not be carried over to the next administration. Successive governments have suffered this epileptic distribution of petroleum products during transition to a new government.

“The government is winding up, and if you are a supplier you have to be careful in terms of supplying petroleum products. Remember that when Jonathan was there, marketers who were supplying products stopped and went on strike, demanding that they must be paid their arrears.”

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