Nigeria imports N812 billion petrol in Q1

The downstream of the Nigeria oil and gas sector imported N812 billion of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) during the first quarter of 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The country imported N349.45 billion worth of PMS in the month of March 2018, representing the highest volume of petroleum product import during the quarter under review.

Specifically, the petroleum products importation statistics for first quarter 2018 reflected that 5.67 billion litres of PMS, 954.47 million litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO); 66.914 million litres of Household Kerosene (HHK); and 5122.067 million litres of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK) were imported into the country in first quarter of 2018.

According to NBS, the months of March 2018 recorded the highest volumes of PMS imported into the country at 2.41 billion litres while the highest volume of AGO and HHK were imported in February and January 2018 respectively.

The continuous importation of petroleum products has exerted undue pressure on the nation’s external reserve and induced depreciation of the naira, according to experts.

They stressed the need for the Federal Government to create a robust domestic refining sector that could reduce petroleum products imports and save the country from capital flight.

For Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, and Director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and law, University of Ibadan, Adeola Adenikinju, there is need for Nigeria to have functional refineries.

According to him, petro subsidy, has repeatedly failed to achieve its distributional objectives, enriches the already wealthy, but more importantly was driving away private sector investment required to bridge the increasing gap between required investment and actual public investment devoted to the sector.

Hence, he noted that for both electricity and petroleum products, there should be a way to harness the huge private resources available for the development of the energy sector.

Adenikinju said that this range from private equity fund, bank loans, foreign direct investment, local private investment, venture capital, green energy fund, infrastructure fund, pension fund, crowd funding especially for small renewable energy projects, multilateral funds, funds from development agencies, global funds to support low carbon energy path, funds from private foundations, public private partnership arrangements, as well as internal financing and others.

Pioneer Director, Centre for Gas, Refining & Petrochemicals (CGRP), Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS), University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Godwin Igwe, emphasized the need for the Federal Government to privatize the nation’s refineries.

He suggested the need for the government to use the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model as with Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, or the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), or Notore Fertiliser Company Limited in harnessing the benefits of petroleum refining.

He urged the government to create a conducive investment environment, and reduce barriers to business in order to attract investors in the country’s petroleum refining sector.

“If security of life and investments are made available, foreign investors will go where money is to be made, but safety is of primary concern in Nigeria.