Nigerian banks barred from the interbank foreign-exchange market may be fined and face the loss of customers and trading income, analysts at Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers Ltd. said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria suspended nine lenders for not transferring around $2.3 billion of deposits for two state oil and gas companies, Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. and Nigeria LNG Ltd., to a government account at the regulator, Lagos-based ThisDay newspaper reported Tuesday. The banks include First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., the nation’s largest lender by assets, United Bank for Africa Plc, Diamond Bank Plc and FCMB Group Plc, the newspaper said.
“The CBN may impose various fines,” analysts at CSL said in a e-mailed note. “Of greater concern to us is the ability of these banks to remit these funds given the illiquidity in the market. Inability to remit these funds will mean staying away from all forex transactions for an extended period.”
Nigeria’s banks have suffered a shortage of hard currency for the last two years as oil prices crashed and investors fled when Africa’s most populous country imposed capital controls to try and protect the naira. Oil accounts for around 90 percent of exports and the bulk of government revenue. The naira has weakened 42 percent against the dollar since it was devalued on June 20.
Diamond Bank’s shares fell 8.9 percent, the most on Nigeria’s benchmark equity index, to 1.12 naira by 2:11 p.m. in Lagos. FCMB dropped 5 percent, while FBN Holdings Plc, First Bank’s owner, was down 1 percent and UBA 0.9 percent. The index fell 0.1 percent to 27,785.95.
Diamond Bank, which is meant to transfer around $287 million, is in discussions with the central bank, according to Lagos-based spokesman Mike Omeife.
“Because of the crash in the local currency, the banks expected the CBN would have allowed them to pay in naira instead of dollars,” Omefie said by phone. The ban has “been there for a long time. It does not affect our normal operations” including customers’ local and foreign-currency deposits or local and international payments, he said.
UBA has “completely remitted all NNPC and NLNG dollar deposits,” Charles Aigbe, a spokesman in Lagos, said in an e-mailed statement. First Bank, meant to repatriate around $470m million, will make a statement today, spokesman Babatunde Lasaki said by phone.
The banks probably won’t be able to issue letters of credit and will lose revenue from trading foreign-exchange until their suspensions are lifted, CSL said.
“While most of the banks we spoke to agree that they have these NNPC funds, they do not agree that these were concealed from the CBN,” the CSL analysts said. “A few of the banks blamed their inability to comply on the tight dollar liquidity in the system brought about by the ongoing restructuring of oil and gas loans and the general scarcity of” of foreign exchange.
Crude Oil Dips Slightly on Friday Amid Demand Concerns
On Friday, global crude oil prices experienced a slight dip, primarily attributed to mounting concerns surrounding demand despite signs of a tightening market.
Brent crude prices edged lower, nearing $83 per barrel, following a recent uptick of 1.6% over two consecutive sessions.
Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $78 per barrel. Despite the dip, market indicators suggest a relatively robust market, with US crude inventories expanding less than anticipated in the previous week.
The oil market finds itself amidst a complex dynamic, balancing optimistic signals such as reduced OPEC+ output and heightened tensions in the Middle East against persistent worries about Chinese demand, particularly as the nation grapples with economic challenges.
This delicate equilibrium has led oil futures to mirror the oscillations of broader stock markets, underscoring the interconnectedness of global economic factors.
Analysts, including Michael Tran from RBC Capital Markets LLC, highlight the recurring theme of robust oil demand juxtaposed with concerning Chinese macroeconomic data, contributing to market volatility.
Also, recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added a risk premium to oil futures, reflecting geopolitical uncertainties beyond immediate demand-supply dynamics.
While US crude inventories saw a slight rise, they remain below seasonal averages, indicating some resilience in the market despite prevailing uncertainties.
Nigeria’s Petrol Imports Decrease by 1 Billion Litres Following Subsidy Removal
Nigeria’s monthly petrol imports declined by approximately 1 billion litres following the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.
The NBS findings illuminate the tangible effects of this policy shift on the country’s petroleum importation dynamics.
Prior to the subsidy removal, the NBS report delineated a consistent pattern of petrol imports with quantities ranging between 1.91 billion and 2.29 billion litres from March to May 2023.
However, in the aftermath of Tinubu’s decision, the nation witnessed a notable downturn in petrol imports, with figures plummeting to 1.64 billion litres in June, the first post-subsidy month.
This downward trend persisted in subsequent months, with July recording a further reduction to 1.45 billion litres and August witnessing a significant decline to 1.09 billion litres.
August’s import figures represented a decrease of over 1 billion litres compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
The NBS report underscores the pivotal role of the subsidy removal in reshaping Nigeria’s petrol import landscape with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company emerging as the sole importer of fuel in the current scenario.
Despite higher petrol imports in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, the decline in June, July, and August underscores the profound impact of subsidy removal on import dynamics, affirming the NBS’s latest findings.
Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.
Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.
Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.
He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.
Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.
The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.
Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.
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