THE Federal Government may be considering increasing petrol price as part of efforts to resolve perennial fuel shortages.
If the plan sails through, government may also have to abandon its policy of fixing the pump price of petrol in order to allow independent marketers resume the importation of fuel to sell at profitable margins, sources at the Petroleum Product Pricing Resulated Agency (PPPRA) have said.
According to the sources, the resumption of products importation by marketers will be an indication that price regulation by government may no longer be feasible since the recent price modulation by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has failed to resolve the crises.
A credible source from the agency further stated that petrol may now be sold for N130 per litre. Already, fuel queues have resurfaced at most fuel stations in Abuja few days after disappearing.
This is even as fears have been expressed that the national budget could suffer a major cash flow setback as prices of crude shed $5 per barrel as at weekend while output dropped further due to attacks on Chevron facility by militants just before the budget was signed last week. Government estimates that it may be losing over $22.8 million daily as a result of the attack.
Sources revealed that after several meetings between oil sector regulators and independents, government last week gave marketers approval to source foreign exchange from the parallel market, which means that the price of petrol may top N130 per litre from the current modulated price set at N86.
However, petrol stations operated by the NNPC will continue to sell petrol at the current price of around N86 as government intends to continue to adjust prices at its stations under the modulation template it recently introduced, the sources further said.
It was also learnt that the Federal Government will not publicly announce this policy shift.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has said Nigeria was considering privatising its refineries within the coming 12 months. The Minister said his team was working with oil majors on improving Nigeria’s four refineries.
Kachikwu was quoted in the April bulletin of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) report to have said discussions are ongoing on how to partner Chevron, Total and ENI.
According to the report, Nigeria has “seen a growing dependency on fuel imports as a result of the underperformance of its refining plants in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.”
Kachikwu was quoted by Reuters as saying that Nigeria wants to privatise the refineries within 12 months following the much-need maintenance work.
“We have gotten commitments from some of the majors. Agip has indicated interest to work with us on Port Harcourt, Chevron on Warri. We are talking to Total on Kaduna,” Kachikwu was quoted to have said.