Nigeria’s petrol shortage is worsening, and fuel stations are shutting down as the country grapples with the challenges of transiting to a deregulated market.
BusinessDay can now reveal five reasons why fuel stations are running dry across the country, piling more misery on Nigerians despite assurances by NNPC that it has enough stock on ground.
Firstly, the current shortage is said to be connected with supply disruptions arising from the fact that NNPC, the sole importer of petrol is now having to pay cash for its supplies as it brings to an end the inglorious swap contracts DSDP which have made well connected private companies rich. This means that the state-owned energy company must now source the cash and the foreign exchange to pay for the petrol it brings into the country. Oil marketers say they have seen the volume of petrol coming into the Lagos area fall 30 per cent to around 60,000 metric tones a week.
Secondly, transporters charged with carrying the petrol from depots to fuel stations around the country are increasingly reluctant to do the business because of rising cost of diesel they need to power their trucks. The value of each truck load of petrol comes to around N20m but the margin the truck owners make has crashed considerably to a mere N100,000 per trip. The truck owners consider this margin inadequate for sometimes when cargoes are missing, they must pay for it. As a result, truck owners are finding something else to do with their trucks or simply preferring only routes where they do not have to travel far to deliver their consignments.
Thirdly, the fuel stations that have supply are seeing more cars call in to restock because of persistent rumours that the government is mulling options for raising petrol price to ensure that subsidy does not return.
The fourth reason given for the on-going shortage of petrol is connected with the curious case in which marketers with large footprint are struggling to get supplies from NNPC while marketers with smaller number of fuel stations are accessing the products. Some claim that there could be underhand dealings between these small marketers and top NNPC officials.
Finally, the recent sacking of some key directors at NNPC is also said to be creating some supply disruptions as the replacements of the sacked officials get down to work and this simply manifests in delays at NNPC a case of why the state owned oil firm should not be the sole supplier of petrol in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a top crude oil producer but corruption and ineptitude at NNPC ensure that the country must import all the petroleum products it needs.