The federal government has finally bowed to antics of petroleum products marketers who have wittingly adjusted upward the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) also called petrol.
Though, before yesterday’s report claiming that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company(NNPC) Limited had officially approved pump from N165 per litre to N179 per litre, most petroleum dispensing outlets in major cities across the country have clandestinely adjusted their pumps upwards.
Checks in Abuja and nearby Niger and Nasarawa states reveal that NNPC stations are selling at N179 per liter while other major stations have adjusted their price boards to N185/litre for petrol or PMS while diesel or Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) is sold for N850/l.
However, petrol marketers associations have kept mum on the development.
According to reports, the NNPC, in a notice to fuel marketers, directed them to change the petrol price on pumps to the new price effective Tuesday.
This was even as the company equally increased the ex-depot price from N148.17 to N167 per litre.
This came after weeks of petrol scarcity resurfaced across the country as fuel retailers were adopting different price bands to force unofficial deregulation attempts.
Already, majority of filling stations in Lagos have adopted different price models, while some filling stations have changed the price on their meters to reflect the current price they are selling at, others have left theirs to show the approved retail price of N165 per litre but were selling above the displayed price.
A key industry operator confided in LEADERSHIP that, there has not been any official document authorising any increase.
While depot operators’ association, major and independent marketers refused to comment on the development, an operator told our correspondent that she can comment if only the price adjustment being speculated in the media comes in the letterhead of the NNPC.
Recall that the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria(MOMAN), recently called for commencement of gradual deregulation of the downstream oil and gas sector to reflect current price of petroleum products.
The marketers noted that, with the escalating energy costs occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, no country or authority has control of how cost of energy can be priced.
Speaking at a virtual meeting with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission [FCCPC], and the media, the chairman of MOMAN, Olumide Adeosun, said the impact of the conflict is having immense effect on businesses in Nigeria which is largely a consumer country with inactive refining capacity.
On diesel price disparity, Adeosun said, the cost of diesel is actually cheaper in Nigeria.
Comparing Nigeria with Kenya, Zambia and others, he said, though cost of diesel has reached up to N800 a liter, it is still cheaper compared to what it sells in other countries.
Adeosun stated that the price of diesel would have been lower today, and attributed the hike to inaccessibility of foreign exchange at official rate.
He said marketers source forex from parallel market at N620 a dollar but even at that, diesel cost in Nigeria is about $1.29 a liter as against $1.34 a liter in Kenya.
He said, as a country, Nigeria should begin to develop initiatives that will help reduce energy consumption especially as the government cannot sustain escalating subsidy bills.
This, he said, is because other countries are adopting measures like closing borders to export which is indirectly locking Nigeria out of the market, while others are passing the cost to consumers.
“Our subsidy bill is outrageous and we have had a prolonged subsidy regime without saving for the rainy day and this has reduced capacities to deal with the impact.
“We want a phased deregulation. Landing cost of product, high cost of diesel to bridge products across about 500 kilometers, or run our stations is enormous, and all of these add up to cost of doing business and cannot guarantee N165 a liter approved pump price of petrol.
“The other option is for businesses to shut down but I think it is better to have a gradual price adjustment to sustain businesses or cripple the economy totally “ he said.