The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has ruled out the possibility of introducing subsidies on Automotive Gas Oil, also known as diesel, is unlikely, because the government cannot afford the payment of subsidies on diesel.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NNPC, Mele Kyari, who made this known in Abuja, expressed regret that Nigeria’s petroleum refineries are not working.
While appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Downstream, alongside the CEO of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, among others, Kyari stated that the country is not producing diesel as a result of the faulty refineries.
“In our country today, we do not produce AGO and we regret that our refineries are not working,” he said. “Are we doing anything about it? Yes. I have heard the honourable members lamenting; yes, they (the refineries) are not working.
“This is the truth. I don’t want to bore you with why they are not working, but they are not working; I admit they are not working but we regret it. I will invite this committee at your convenience to join us to see how much work we have done to get them back to work, but they will not come back tomorrow.
“They will not! You cannot start it tomorrow. We regret this; we regret this situation, and we are doing everything possible. As a matter of fact, we have decided to do a quick fix for the Warri refinery. The reason is very simple: we don’t even want to go the long route of doing comprehensive turnaround maintenance because we are concerned.”
The NNPC boss disclosed that Saudi Arabia’s Aramco recently bought a large amount of AGO and stockpiled it. “We were very surprised that Saudi Arabia would do this.
“No one knows what will come tomorrow. No one can guarantee the security of supply. That is why people are resorting to self-help. People are preserving the excess volumes that they have,” he said.
Kyari, however, decried that Nigeria imports almost every commodity “perhaps, maybe with the exception of food.” He added that while the country does not export, it cannot have foreign exchange.
As a result, he believes the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the governor, Godwin Emefiele, might not be able to provide forex intervention.
“There is a limit to what he (Emefiele) can do because as long as we are not productive, the only way you can cover FX gap is for you to go and borrow FX, and no one is going to lend you money to put on a subsidy; it does not happen anywhere in the world. No bank will lend you FX to go and put it into consumption.
“When Nigerians living in the diaspora used to be a very great source of forex. They can no longer send back because many of them are out of employment. So, they can no longer send money even to their parents. So, you cannot have it in your banking system,” he stated.
The lawmakers had summoned stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, including Kyari and Ahmed, to an investigative hearing over the scarcity and the rising cost of Premium Motor Spirit (also known as petrol), diesel, and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG (also known as cooking gas) in the country.
In his presentation, the NMDPRA chief suggested three measures to be taken to address the challenges with the supply and distribution chain.
He said the “required amount of forex for importation of the petroleum products (should) be made available to the genuine importers at CBN official rate.”
Ahmed also asked the government to “encourage the establishment of more local refineries and LPG processing facilities to meet domestic demands,” adding that “an increase in the LPG supply from major domestic producers, including NLNG, BRT processing, CNL, LPG, FSO,” would resolve some of the issues.
The NMDPRA boss stated that in addition to the three suggested solutions, “an extensive consultation is required among key stakeholders towards lessening the present tension being generated by the global high oil prices.”
“Presently, Nigeria is a net importer of refined petroleum products, including AGO, as the country imports about 100 per cent of AGO consumed locally,” he said. “An average of 12 million litres is also being consumed daily based on average truck-out quantity.