Oil marketers and government are quarrelling again. Here's why their quarrel should bother you
The signs aren't looking good.
Here's what we know:
Oil marketers who import the bulk of petrol consumed in Nigeria, have stopped lifting the product.
According to these marketers, they've run out of dollars to import petrol.
Who should provide the dollars?
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The very aggrieved marketers say the apex bank has refused to make the dollar available at the fixed exchange rate of N305 to $1.
Meetings between the marketers and Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, have yielded little.
The stakeholders who have been attending these meetings are officials of the NNPC (Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation), representatives of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and of course, the fuel marketers.
The Guardian quotes one oil marketer as saying: "If we can’t get dollars to buy at this rate, we cannot import, because as the price of crude is rising, so is the prices of refined products. Petrol today lands at $555/metric tonne, which puts landing cost at N148/litre, excluding other charges.
“CBN is refusing to grant us the window of getting dollars at the official rate of N305".
What happens if independent marketers stop importing petrol? Well, the NNPC will continue with importation.
But here's where it gets worrisome--the NNPC doesn't have the capacity to meet Nigeria's daily petrol demand of 40 million liters.
The last time NNPC called the bluff of the marketers and decided to import petrol all by itself, we all know how that ended.
However, the NNPC says you shouldn't panic just yet because it presently has 1.3 billion liters of petrol in its storage tanks.
That could last us a few more weeks. But what if we exhaust all of that?
Kachikwu has said he is sure that all of the dollar issues between petrol marketers and the CBN will be resolved before we completely run out of stock.
In a statement sent to Pulse, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) says there's no cause for concern....for now.
"We want to assure motorists and commuters alike, that the products supply situation is robust and able to cater for the fuel needs of all Nigerians, pending when ongoing challenges are addressed.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the National Petroleum Products Stock data and import plan, currently indicate that the country has two (2) months (Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as PMS) sufficiency, hence as a corollary to the above, PPPRA also wants to inform the citizens that contrary to a widely-held belief on the status of HHK (kerosene), the product is fully deregulated.
“We hereby appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm and desist from any form of panic-buying, as we assure them of our total commitment to adequate products supply and distribution across the country, in line with our mandate.”
You heard the government agency, didn't you?