In a recent development, fuel prices in Nigeria, particularly at filling stations operated by independent marketers, have surged beyond the official price bands approved by the Federal Government.
Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol, is now being sold at exorbitant rates, with some filling stations in the Northern region charging as high as N685 per liter.
This price hike follows the July increase in the pump price of petrol, which was raised from a range of N537 to N550 per litre to N617 per liter at filling stations run by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in Abuja and several Northern states.
The price of fuel also rose in other regions, with Lagos and the South-West experiencing a jump from a range of N488 to N500 per liter to around N580 per liter, while the South-South saw prices rise from N515 per liter to approximately N600 per liter.
The NNPCL, the primary importer of petrol in Nigeria, plays a crucial role in determining the official price of fuel. Therefore, when NNPCL stations adjust their prices, other marketers in the industry follow suit. The NNPCL has become the sole importer of petrol in Nigeria as other marketers have halted imports due to difficulties in accessing the required United States dollars for fuel imports.
President Bola Tinubu’s announcement in his inaugural address on May 29 that petrol subsidies had ended led to a significant surge in petrol prices, escalating from N198 per liter to over N500 per liter on May 30, 2023.
However, rather than adhering to the N580 per liter and N617 per liter price bands in the South and North, respectively, some dealers have been observed by PUNCH to be selling petrol for as much as N685 per litre, especially in states in the Northern region like Sokoto and Taraba.
In Abuja, independent dealers raised their pump prices to as high as N630 per liter, while black market sellers were hawking fuel in jerrycans for around N850 per liter. Observations at the Aso Energy Resources Station in Kubwa Phase 2 revealed that fuel was being dispensed at N630 per liter, above the approved rate of N617 per liter. A.A Rano filling station at Jabi Garage in Abuja also dispensed PMS at N625 per liter. Meanwhile, NNPCL filling stations in Wuse Zone 6 and Garki Area 10 maintained the official pump price of N617 per liter.
Petrol remains scarce in many filling stations in Sokoto, where independent marketers are selling the commodity for between N680 and N685 per liter. While NNPCL-operated stations sell PMS at prices ranging from N615 to N620 per liter, other major marketers dispense the product at N630 and N640 per liter. Independent marketers in Sokoto have continued to sell the commodity at higher rates despite the recent fuel scarcity.
Chinedu Ukadike, the Public Relations Officer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), explained to PUNCH that the high cost of petrol at independent retail outlets can be attributed to the soaring cost of diesel, which is essential for transporting . The fuelsignificant expense of transporting PMS from the South to Northern Nigeria, which exceeds N2 million, has become a major concern. As diesel prices now exceed N1,000 per liter, it has become a critical component in fuel distribution.
Ukadike clarified that prices at NNPCL retail stations and those of major marketers were comparatively lower because these operators have tank farms and depots from which they source their products.
The downstream oil sector regulator, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has not comprehensively explained this price surge.