Fuel shortage in Nigeria


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A worsening fuel shortage in Nigeria has forced motorists into long queues at the pump and complicated their plans for the upcoming Christmas holiday.

Nigeria, a major oil producer and Africa’s largest economy, relies on crude exports for over half of its government revenues.

But despite exporting some 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, Nigeria’s limited manufacturing capacity forces it to remain almost wholly reliant on imported gasoline. The country uses the profits from its nationally-owned crude exports to pay for the import of that refined fuel.

But a worsening economic crisis in the country, complicated by a global loss of demand for oil products, has brought down the balance of trade significantly — down to $3.2 billion in the third quarter, from $14.4 billion a year ago.

It is a major loss for Nigeria’s ability to pay for gasoline imports, resulting in shortages across the country.

One motorist in the capital of Abuja told Reuters he had already waited four hours to receive his turn at a petrol station.

“This morning, I was up by 4 am to join this queue and this is by my time about 25 minutes past eight. So you can see it’s about a period of four hours and — for me to get fuel,” businessman Kenneth Adika said. “And of course this is a Yuletide (Christmas) period we are into and of course you know people are supposed to be travelling. So to get yourself on the road you need to go through a lot of stress and it has really affected us so badly.”

Idika says Nigeria’s government needs to figure out a permanent solution to the massive fuel shortages that has lingered on for months.

“We heard there are subsidy issues that yet unresolved with the independent oil marketers and all that which I heard they had doled out some cash to pay them. Even when that is done we still don’t see it trickle down here so nobody can really say this is what the reason is but whatsoever the reason is, it’s really not correct. The government should be able to rectify this that’s why we voted them in,” he said.

Nigeria’s four ageing oil refineries produced nothing in October, despite a goal from Nigeria’s state-controlled oil corporation to produce 30 percent of its own gasoline in 2016.

In addition to the swap arrangement, it also relies on an import subsidy scheme that is itself expensive.

“Our present president is the minister of petroleum so I wonder why he would take such an important office in Nigeria and still watch something go bad like this and all that,” another motorist, banker Oyebara Kingsley said. “Honestly I voted him and I think that he knows what to do, he really knows what to do. If he is owing the marketers he should go ahead and pay them and if he is not owing the marketers he knows what to do. He should do the needful and let’s have petrol and enjoy our Christmas because it’s not funny.”

Regardless of a solution, it may come to late for the holiday plans of many like Abuja resident, Borose Christy.

“I intend travelling but right now I can’t really tell, my people are all calling if I’m coming, I can’t really say yes or no because of the situation I don’t think I will be travelling at all,” she said.

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