Long queues for fuel have resurfaced in Lagos and Ogun states, as well as some parts of South-Western Nigeria, as thieves have targeted oil pipelines, causing supply disruptions. While the North remains unaffected mainly, fuel depots in Lagos are experiencing shortages, leading to the reemergence of queues at filling stations.
Queue sightings by PUNCH have been prevalent at various stations, notably along the Oshodi-Ojodu Berger Expressway and sections of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. These queues have caused congestion on the roads, hindering traffic flow.
The North-West filling station reported the longest queue, offering petrol at N568 per litre. In contrast, others, such as Eterna, NNPCL, TotalEnergies, and Mobil, had shorter lines with prices ranging from N568 to N570 per litre. Conversely, Conoil, Enyo, and Oando stations in Lagos had no fuel to dispense.
A significant contributing factor to the fuel shortage is pipeline vandalism, which has been a recurring issue. Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) officials reported that their satellite depot had not received any product shipments in the past three weeks due to pipeline vandalism. This situation has the potential to impact not only Lagos but also the broader South-West region.
NNPCL Retail, responsible for distributing petroleum products through its 21 depots across Nigeria, has faced challenges due to pipeline vandalism. In December, NNPCL abandoned several depots, leading to an increased reliance on private depots for product distribution.
Efforts were made to address the pipeline issues, including the resumption of operations at the Satellite depot in Lagos, which was subsequently vandalized again in July. Despite these setbacks, the Dangote Refinery’s impending production of refined petroleum products was expected to alleviate the situation.
Unfortunately, the market has experienced a supply-demand imbalance. As private marketers struggle to import products due to rising foreign exchange rates, fuel stations are reducing operations and, in some cases, even closing outlets. Consequently, the imbalance places the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) as the primary importer, giving them substantial influence over market pricing.
The price of petrol has surged following the end of fuel subsidies, rising from an average of N180 to N200 per litre to a range of N614 to N700. While rumours of even higher prices have circulated, NNPCL has not officially confirmed them.
Despite the challenges, industry insiders assure that measures are being taken to stabilize the situation. IPMAN’s National Controller Operations, Mike Osatuyi, indicated that while private marketers may be struggling to import due to pricing, there’s confidence that NNPCL will intervene as needed.
How the situation will evolve in the coming weeks remains to be seen. As efforts continue to curb pipeline vandalism and stabilize the fuel supply chain, fuel availability and pricing dynamics will remain under scrutiny.