The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has resumed being the sole importer of petrol into the country barely five months after announcing that it would no longer do so.
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that NNPCL Group Chief Executive Officer Mele Kyari disclosed this at the ongoing Energy Labour Summit organised by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Abuja.
Kyari blamed the decision on foreign exchange issues, which have made it difficult for private companies to import petroleum products.
“We are the only company importing petrol into the country. None of them can do it today. For them, access to foreign exchange is difficult,” Kyari said. “We create foreign exchange (FX), therefore, we have access to FX, while their access to FX is limited.”
Kyari had said at that time that the market regulates itself after the petrol subsidy removal, so, oil marketing companies can actually import products or produce locally.
“They can take the product onto the market, sell it and get their money back,” he said.
Recall that in June 2023, Kyari announced that private companies would have the opportunity to import fuel starting from June 2023, as the NNPCL plans to end crude oil swap contracts and switch to cash payments for fuel imports.
Kyari said the decision aligned with President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to deregulate the fuel market and alleviate the financial burden on the government.
It could also be recalled that shortly after the announcement by Kyari, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Authority (NMDPRA) said that it had granted petrol import licenses to six private companies.
Now, Kyari’s latest revelation has raised concerns that the government is gradually bringing back the petrol subsidy regime.
Reacting, Oil and Gas analyst Kayode Oluwadare said one of the things deregulation (petrol subsidy removal) was supposed to do was to allow independent marketers to import petrol on their own terms.
“However, now that the NNPCL has restored the status quo as the sole importer, it shows that the country is back to the petrol subsidy regime,” Oluwadare told Nairametrics.
Oluwadare added that the government is gradually bringing back the conditions of the fuel subsidy regime because of the constant pressure it has been under since the official removal of petrol subsidies.
“We are now back to the status quo. In the coming days, the petrol pump price will remain the same,” Oluwadare said. “We may also see the petrol pump price slightly coming down, with the current global trend, we are not likely to see an increase in petrol pump prices.”