As the struggle to get Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol mounts, it has been estimated that Nigerians guzzled 2,020,248,000 litres of the product and spent at least N333.34 billion at official retail pump price on it in one month. Observers have, however, queried the figures.
This week, petrol scarcity was more pronounced across Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country leading to a hike transport fare across states.
While some marketers blamed diesel hike on freight cost to lift the product, some others blamed NNPC Limited for cutting the daily quota to marketers from about 103 million to 65m since the last two weeks, after the government agency suspected higher rate of product smuggling.
At the moment, various stations sell the product above the N165 official pump price with the rate reaching N200 in some states. However, at official N165/litre rate, consumers in Nigeria would have paid N333.34bn (N333,340,920,000) for the 28-day supply of petrol to the markets.
This was in just 28 days, between 21st March and 17th April, according to Daily Trust analysis of petrol loading and distribution data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Authority (NMDPRA).
At a standard 33,000-litre capacity per petrol tanker, that would mean 61,220 units of tankers conveyed the product to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The N333bn market earning for the product by the mostly private marketers could have been more if the federal government had stopped the subsidy payment which would gulp N4 trillion from this month till May 2023.
With the subsidy, petrol price ought to be N165/l but the other indices of diesel price hike as well as supply cut has lowered the subsidy impact as stations in most states now brazenly sell petrol above N165/l.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, defended his decision not to heed the calls by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and other leading economists to remove the fuel subsidy.
The President who spoke on the matter in an interview with Bloomberg, said the western allies were now learning the hard way what looked good on paper but with human consequences if implemented.
Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum and Mele Kyari, NNPC GMD
Buhari said: “Most western countries are today implementing fuel subsidies. Why would we remove ours now? What is good for the goose is good for the gander!”
He said until there is internal production for refined products and boosted capacity which is ongoing, (Dangote Refinery, BUA Group Refinery, Waltersmith Refinery), as well as stable foreign exchange (forex) rate, it would not be appropriate to remove the subsidy.
The analysis indicated that in the first 14 days of the coverage period, oil marketers loaded and distributed 1.003bn litres of the product from mostly private depots at an average of 73.56m litres daily. For the other 14 days which lasted till mid-April 2022, 990.45m litres of petrol was loaded at a daily load average of 70.74m litres.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that this period was when Nigerians experienced protracted petrol queues across major states after NNPCL and its partners withdrew volumes of adulterated petrol from circulation and replaced it with fresh petrol consignment.
The 36 states and FCT which got delivery of petrol during the coverage period for this report were divided into three segments. There were 14 High Demand States (HDS), 11 Medium Demand States (MDS) and 12 Low Demand States (LDS).
The three states (HDS) with the highest daily supply of petrol during the 28-day period were Lagos, Kano and Niger with 45.76m litres of daily supply. Out of this, Lagos had 24.19m daily, Kano had 11.48m daily supply and Niger had 10.1m litres daily supply of petrol.
The trend analysis shows that 14 states got the highest petrol volume of 1.421bn litres worth N234.5bn for the 28 days. Lagos got 338.607m litres, Kano followed with 160.709m and Niger with 141.218m. With these figures, residents of the three states spent N105.8bn on the product in just one month.
Other high demand states sold petrol worth N128.7bn with FCT getting 66.961m litres as nineth on the list and Benue got the lowest of 26.5m litres in this category.
The medium demand states received 476.4m litres of petrol in 28 days resulting in at least N78.6bn sales, Akwa Ibom with 50.1m litres and Kwara followed with 49.8m, Abia received 21.2m litres as the lowest in this rung.
The low demand states received 123.21m litres of the product estimated at N20.3bn at N165/l. Of this, Kebbi received 15.6m litres, Bayelsa got 15.4m and Kogi received 14.788m litres. The least of the product volume of 2.07m litres was delivered to Jigawa.
Doubts trail States’ consumption figures
Residents and experts are beginning to raise eyebrows at the government-owned petroleum agencies for the huge figures being ascribed to petroleum consumption, doubting if residents in some of these states actually consumed the product volume allocated to such states.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that for trucking the 2bn litres of petrol, 61,220 tankers would be required and at 42 feet for a standard tanker length, the petrol tankers will stretch for 2.571m feet or 784 kilometres distance, which is over the estimated 762km for Abuja to Lagos and nearly the 787km from Abuja to Yola.
A socio-economic commentator in Abuja, John Umale, said there could be ghost imports and consumption ongoing, noting that the average 70 million litres of daily petrol consumption being bandied around by the agencies may not be the real.
“I think it was high time for anti-graft and security agencies started genuine probe on these figures because the fact is that, for over 61,000 tankers to truck 2 billion litres of petrol in 28 days, most states will witness traffic congestion at the highways, except these things are conveyed by train which I doubt. Even if fewer tankers are making round tripping, the impact will still be felt,” Umale stated.
Speaking further on domestic petrol consumption, an oil industry official believed there is complicity by various agencies which they justify by blaming smuggling of the product across the borders.
“In what seems like complicity, those who are supervising this monumental heist, quickly blamed it on smugglers.
“Moreover, to smuggle, say, 53 million litres of petrol out of Nigeria everyday, would require 2,121 tankers and they will have to be moving every day for 30 days or so. How can they have free access to the borders every day? The borders will be congested and if they are following illegal routes, the humongous traffic of 63,636 tankers moving out every month will easily give them away to security operatives,” said the official.
The oil and gas official further noted that the major destination would not be more than Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin Republic who have fewer populations than some states in Nigeria.
Checks by Daily Trust Saturday showed that the daily consumption of petrol by the six countries bordering Nigeria, which are the possible smuggling destinations, as alleged by the Nigerian petroleum agencies, does not exceed 10m litres per day.
Togo uses 10,100bls or 1.61m litres, Niger uses 8000bl or 1.3m daily, Benin and Burkina Faso use up 7,000bl or 1.1m litres each every day while Chad consumes 6,000bl or 954,000 litres of petrol daily. The daily consumption of petrol combined for the five countries is 8.464 million litres or at most 10m litres daily.
However, Nigeria is estimated to use 180,000bl or 28.6m litres of petrol daily. Daily Trust analysis also found that assuming Nigeria supplies the daily petrol needs of these countries, the estimated daily consumption in Nigeria will be at 37m litres/daily or at most 40m litres. This is however, 30m litres short of the 70m litres of petrol, which the petroleum agencies said Nigerians are using every day.
However, recently, daily load figure was said to have risen to 103m litres, a similar situation in June 2021 when NNPC alleged it rose to 102m, before it cut allocation to 60m.
This story was produced as part of Dataphyte’s 2022 Media Fellowship.