The upturn in global oil prices last week has again brought to the fore marketers’ concerns over the non-implementation of the full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector as the pump prices of petrol have been left unchanged for more than two months.
Top officials of two major marketers’ associations who spoke with our correspondents on Saturday said the continued increase in oil prices had brought back petrol subsidy.
The PUNCH had reported on January 11 that the sustained increase in global crude oil prices had pushed up the landing cost of imported petrol closer to the current pump prices of the product in Nigeria, and appeared to have triggered a return to petrol subsidy era.
Since November 13, 2020 when the pump prices of PMS were last increased in the country, the price of the international oil benchmark, Brent crude, has increased by 43 per cent, rising from $41.51 per barrel to $59.34 per barrel on Friday.
Fuel marketers had in December expected another upward adjustment of PMS prices to reflect the further rise in crude oil prices, which closed at $51.22 per barrel on December 31.
However, a N5 reduction in petrol price, effective December 14, was announced by the Federal Government – a development that left them reeling in shock and questioning the deregulation of petrol price.
According to the marketers, the pump price of petrol should be between N185 and N200 per litre.
The product is currently sold at between N160 and N165 per litre at many filling stations in Lagos.
The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Clement Isong, said, “Members of my association are operating in Nigeria and care about the long-term sustainability of the industry as well as the country itself.
“So, we know that depending on what exchange rate you use, the pump price should be between N185 and N200 per litre.
“For as long as we continue to sell the product at what we are currently selling it, then somebody is bearing the cost of subsidy, and the country really cannot afford subsidy at this time.”
He said the demand for petrol had increased significantly in the country, adding that the security of supply had been threatened.
Isong said smuggling might have resumed because of the significantly different prices across the borders, which were recently opened.