Oil marketers in Nigeria have put their plans to import petrol on hold, as they hope to get refined petroleum products from the country’s refineries by the end of the year.
The importation of petrol, also known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), has become unprofitable due to the scarcity of foreign exchange needed for the transactions.
The operators in the downstream oil sector said they were following the government’s promise to revive the refineries and end fuel importation by December 2023.
The National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chinedu Okonkwo, said that local refining of crude oil would be a game changer for the industry.
He said that importation was not the way to go, as it put pressure on the demand for dollars. He added that he believed the new petroleum minister, who recently announced that the Port Harcourt refinery would begin operations by December 2023.
The minister, Heineken Lokpobiri, had stated during an inspection tour of the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited plant that the Warri and Kaduna refineries would also come on stream by the end of next year.
He said that with the addition of the Dangote Refinery, Nigeria would be able to stop fuel importation and enjoy the full benefits of deregulation.
Okonkwo explained that local refining would have many advantages for the downstream sector and the economy. He said that it would reduce the dependence on imported products, create jobs, lower transportation costs, and ensure availability of fuel. He also said that it would lead to price reduction of petrol, as the cost of moving crude oil in and out of Nigeria would be eliminated.
Okonkwo admitted that oil marketers were facing challenges in their business, as the economic crunch was affecting everyone. He said that some operators of smaller filling stations were considering merger, while others were struggling to survive. He expressed optimism that things would improve when Nigeria starts refining its own crude oil locally.