Unless the oil sector is fully deregulated, fuel scarcity will remain a norm in the country, the Federal Government has hinted.
Also, the government admitted that the soaring price of cooking gas was beyond its control.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva stated these just as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said Nigeria imports fuel “far more” than it needs.
In the House of Representatives, Abuja where NLC President Ayuba Wabba spoke, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) put the total volume of Nigeria’s fuel import between 2015 and June 2022 at about 2,380,814,974.418 metric tonnes.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) told the committee that Nigeria’s average daily fuel consumption is 60 million litres per day.
Also yesterday, Presidential candidate of the Labour Party(LP), Peter Obi decried the high petroleum subsidy being paid by the government, saying it was a scam
Fielding questions from reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Sylva said the scarcity of fuel in Abuja, Lagos and some parts of the country was not due to supply but “cost-related.”
His words: “Frankly, it is not a supply issue, as you can also confirm, so it’s not from us. But you know when you have an arbitrage opportunity, people will tend to take advantage of it. These are some of the fallouts of the subsidy regime.
“If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja, in most places, only in the Abuja metropolis you continue to have these queues. So, is it that there is less supply to Abuja than to the rest of the country? It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can afford to probably sell at higher prices.
“I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices, but within Abuja, because of the watchful eye of the Federal Government, they cannot sell at those prices. So, it’s not a very attractive market for them.
“I think these are all things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate.
“I don’t know whether there’re queues in some places in Lagos, but the queues are reported mostly in Abuja, and in some parts of Lagos, not every part of Lagos, wherever they think they can sell at higher prices. There are no queues.
“But that actually is a problem. It is not a supply problem. The country is well supplied as it is. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC ) has a very good supply. So, it is not a problem for us, but it is the marketers.”
The minister however said that the government was “engaging the marketers.”
Sylva explained that the price of cooking gas was rising because of global economic recession and the Russia-Ukraine war.
He said: “On this gas issue, we already said gas is a deregulated commodity. It is not within the purview of the government to fix prices. Because it is not subsidized.
“You also know, the geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and Russia is still on and is really affecting the global prices of this commodity.”
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