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Emirates, Kenya Airways Suspend Abuja Operations

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  • Emirates, Kenya Airways Suspend Abuja Operations

Dubai-based Emirates Airlines and Kenya Airways have announced the suspension of their flights to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, in the face of the economic downturn in the country, foreign exchange scarcity, and the shrinking passenger traffic on international routes.

Emirates, one of the biggest foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, said it would stop flights effective October 22, while the East African carrier, Kenya Airways, has also announced that it would suspend flights to and from Abuja with effect from November 15, 2016 as part of its restructuring and loss-saving measures.

In this regard, Emirates was said to have written to the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, over its intention to stop flights from Abuja, indicating its inability to buy FX.

The letter was said to have been received by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation.

The airline was reported to have said, if after weeks off the Abuja suspension, no drastic change happens, Emirates would also suspend Lagos operations indefinitely and with that exit the Nigerian market.

Emirates like many major international carriers operating in Nigeria, has huge sums for ticket sales with the banks, which it has not been able to repatriate.

About two months ago, foreign airlines’ funds trapped in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was put at $900 million but the federal government granted the airlines access to FX at a concessionary exchange rate to enable them repatriate about 50 per cent of their ticket sales.

Besides the huge funds trapped in Nigeria, the recession has led to a reduction in passenger traffic, forcing the foreign airlines to reassess the logistics of operating from Nigeria with low load factors.

Emirates Airline has also threatened to stop its flights into Africa if the economic downturn on the continent worsens.

The president of the airline, Tim Clark, stated this in Dubai yesterday at an International Air Transport Association (IATA) forum.

Clark said foreign airlines flying to Africa now refuel abroad because jet fuel supplies had become more expensive and scarce in some African countries.

“In certain African countries, the currencies have really gone down, so we’re reflecting on a number of these to look at where it’s just not worth for us to travel,” Clark said.

He added that Emirates’ load factor – a measure of capacity utitlisation – for the rest of 2016 and 2017, would probably be in the mid-70s to low-80s in percentage terms.

Clark, however, said there would be some peaks and troughs in that time.

About a month ago, Emirates started tanking fuel from Accra, Ghana because of the scarcity of jet fuel in Nigeria.

Other foreign carriers were also forced to refuel at different locations outside the country before flying to Nigeria.

The airlines’ media office in Lagos confirmed the suspension of Abuja flights, stating: “Emirates can confirm that it’s suspending its four times weekly service between Abuja, Nigeria and Dubai with effect from 22nd October 2016.

“The decision was made after a review of the airline’s operations to ensure the best utilisation of its aircraft fleet for its overall business objectives. The airline continues to serve Nigeria with a daily flight to and from Lagos.”

In a related development, the federal government after the recent shake up at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), yesterday announced the appointment of two new directors to help the organisation realise its new set goals.

The new directors are Mrs. Nike Aboderin, who was made Director, Finance and Accounts (DFA), and Mr. Sadiku Abdulkadir Rafindadi, appointed as Director, Commercial and Business Development (DCBD).

The agency said Mrs. Aboderin is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (FCIB). She holds an M.Sc degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos.

“Mrs. Aboderin possesses over 23 years experience in the financial services industry, which has exposed her to both public and private exploits at different institutions including multinationals.

“She is also an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) graduate of the Lagos Business School.

“In addition, she holds a post graduate certificate in Global Strategic Management (GSM) from the Harvard Business School, Boston, USA. She is married with children,” FAAN said in a statement signed by its acting General Manager, Public Affairs, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu.

The agency added that Rafindadi is a 1985 graduate of Economics of the University of Pittsburgh. He also holds an MBA in Finance from the Clark Atlanta University, USA.

“He attended Kaduna Polytechnic, where he obtained a certificate in Management Studies. Mr. Rafindadi is a seasoned amiable manager who started his career as a young officer and rose to the pinnacle through diligence and commitment.

“Until his current appointment, Rafindadi worked in several management capacities in different institutions, including Phoenix Investment Services and British Petroleum. He is married with children,” FAAN said.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Dangote Refinery Struggles Amid Alleged IOC Sabotage, Calls for Government Support

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Devakumar Edwin, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), has accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria of undermining the operations of Dangote Oil Refinery and Petrochemicals.

Edwin claims that these IOCs are deliberately obstructing the refinery’s efforts to purchase local crude oil by inflating prices above market rates, compelling the refinery to import crude from as far afield as the United States at significant additional costs.

Speaking at a one-day training programme for Energy Editors organized by the Dangote Group, Edwin expressed his frustration over the challenges faced by the refinery.

“While the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) is trying their best to allocate crude to us, the IOCs are deliberately frustrating our efforts to buy local crude. They are either asking for an excessive premium or claiming crude is unavailable. At one point, we paid $6 above the market price, forcing us to reduce output and import crude, increasing our production costs,” Edwin lamented.

The refinery, which began production recently, has exported over 3.5 billion liters of fuel, representing 90% of its output.

However, Edwin warned that the IOCs seem intent on ensuring that Nigeria remains dependent on imported refined petroleum products by exporting raw materials to their home countries and re-importing the refined products, thereby creating employment and wealth abroad while Nigeria grapples with unemployment and economic challenges.

Edwin also criticized the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) for indiscriminately issuing licenses to importers, leading to an influx of substandard, high-sulfur diesel and other refined products into Nigeria.

“Despite our compliance with ECOWAS regulations and standards, dirty diesel from Russia is being dumped into the Nigerian market. This has serious health implications for Nigerians,” he stated.

In recent months, reports from Agence-France Presse highlighted the detrimental impact of these imports, with high-sulfur fuels linked to carcinogenic effects.

European countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have already banned the export of such fuels to West Africa, citing their harmful impact on air quality and public health.

Edwin urged the Nigerian government and regulators to provide necessary support to ensure the refinery’s success.

“The Federal Government issued 25 licenses to build refineries, and we are the only one that delivered on our promise. We deserve every support from the government to create jobs and prosperity for the nation,” he asserted.

He also appealed to the National Assembly to expedite the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to safeguard Nigeria’s interests and ensure that the country’s refining capacity is fully utilized.

“Ghana has banned the importation of highly contaminated diesel and petrol into their country through legislation. It is regrettable that, in Nigeria, import licenses are granted despite knowing that we have the capacity to produce nearly double the amount of products needed domestically and export the surplus,” Edwin concluded.

The Dangote Refinery’s predicament underscores the broader challenges facing Nigeria’s energy sector, where regulatory and market dynamics continue to pose significant hurdles for local enterprises striving to boost domestic production and reduce dependence on imports.

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Experts Predict Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones Could Generate More Than N11.11tn

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Economic experts are optimistic about the potential of Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones (FTZs) to boost the nation’s economy significantly.

According to recent analysis, these zones could generate more than the N11.11 trillion they have already remitted to the Federation Account as of October 2023.

The Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Muda Yusuf, said the FTZs will help facilitate forex.

“Nigeria’s urgent need for foreign exchange necessitates leveraging our free zones to enhance non-oil export revenue and reduce dependency on crude oil earnings,” Yusuf stated.

He pointed out the success stories of other countries, notably Dubai, which has effectively utilized its free zones to generate foreign exchange and attract significant investments.

“Our free zones must strive to do more, as we are still heavily reliant on oil and gas for our foreign exchange earnings. Increased investment in these areas is crucial,” he added.

Supporting this perspective, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Olufemi Ogunyemi, recently highlighted the economic contributions of the FTZs while addressing the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade, and Investment.

Ogunyemi noted that these zones have created substantial wealth for the states hosting them and generated significant revenue for various agencies.

“Agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, the Immigration Services, and the Nigerian Ports Authority have seen revenues of N59.38 billion, N828.7 million, and N8.738 billion, respectively, while states have received N998 million in Pay As You Earn (PAYE) remittances,” Ogunyemi reported.

He also highlighted the broader impact of the FTZs, noting that as of the end of 2023, the 46 licensed zones had provided 38,429 direct jobs and an additional 172,930 indirect jobs.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $491.8 million and local direct investment amounting to N1.15 trillion have flowed into these zones, with N1.62 trillion worth of cargo imported from 2019 to 2023, saving scarce foreign exchange.

David Adonri, Vice President of Highcap Securities Limited, praised NEPZA’s achievements, suggesting that the government use these successes to encourage more Nigerians to start manufacturing businesses within the FTZs.

“The remittances from the free trade zones are commendable and should be a marketing tool to attract more investments,” Adonri said.

However, some experts believe there is room for improvement. Professor Olusegun Ajibola of Babcock University argued that while the remittances are noteworthy, they are not yet at a level worth celebrating.

“The government needs to intensify efforts in revenue generation from these zones as they were established at a significant cost to the host states,” Ajibola remarked.

He called for a review of the 32-year-old NEPZA Act to address any challenges and enhance the performance of the FTZs.

As Nigeria continues to seek ways to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on oil, the FTZs present a promising avenue. With strategic investments and robust management, these zones could indeed surpass their current contributions, fostering economic growth and stability for the nation.

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Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery Breaks Into Asian Market with LSSR Shipment

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Aliko Dangote - Investors King

In a historic move, Dangote Refinery is set to ship low-sulfur straight-run fuel oil (LSSR) from Nigeria to Singapore this week, its entry into the Asian market.

This development represents a significant milestone for the refinery, which began operations in January following a $20 billion investment.

According to ship tracking data and market sources, the refinery will initiate a new trade route from Nigeria to Asia, a region that consistently demands low-sulfur fuel oil for ship refueling at Singapore, the world’s largest bunker hub.

The Glencore-chartered vessel, Front Brage, will deliver approximately 124,000 metric tons (787,400 barrels) of LSSR to Singapore, with the shipment expected to arrive on Wednesday.

The Dangote Refinery, with a processing capacity of up to 650,000 barrels of products per day, is poised to become the largest refinery in Africa and Europe once it reaches full capacity.

Since March, the refinery has increased its LSSR exports, primarily sending cargoes to the Americas and Europe, as reported by ship tracking data from Kpler and Vortexa.

“This first shipment to Asia marks a new chapter in Dangote Refinery’s expansion strategy,” said a market analyst. “Breaking into the Asian market underscores the refinery’s growing influence and its capability to meet diverse global fuel demands.”

Market sources suggest that the cargo was redirected to Asia due to weaker demand in Europe. Data from LSEG indicates that the east-west spread for front-month 0.5 percent LSFO, reflecting the price difference between these regions, stayed above $40 per ton this week.

Dangote’s LSSR cargoes are priced against Rotterdam’s 0.5 percent LSFO quotes on a free-on-board basis, although the specific pricing differential for this shipment was not disclosed by market sources.

This pioneering shipment is the beginning of a series of exports to Asia. Another LSSR shipment from the Dangote refinery, containing around 157,000 tons, is expected to reach Singapore in July aboard the vessel Stena Suede, based on ship tracking data.

LSSR is typically blended with other fuels to create low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) for bunkering or used as feedstock in various refinery processes.

This export initiative not only diversifies Dangote Refinery’s market reach but also enhances Nigeria’s position in the global energy market.

In February, Dangote began exporting oil products and started purchasing crude oil, mainly from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd, in December 2023.

The refinery’s successful entry into the Asian market is anticipated to drive further growth and establish new trade relationships, reinforcing its status as a key player in the global oil industry.

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This landmark export not only demonstrates Dangote Refinery’s operational capabilities but also signals Nigeria’s expanding influence in the global energy sector. As the refinery continues to innovate and expand, it is well-positioned to meet the increasing global demand for cleaner, more efficient fuels.

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