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FG May Sell Warri, Kaduna Refineries

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  • FG May Sell Warri, Kaduna Refineries

There are indications that the Federal Government will sell two of its three crude oil refineries that are found to have become commercially unviable as part of measures to boost the nation’s refining sector.

The two refineries likely to be sold, according to a report of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation obtained by our correspondent on Friday, are the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company and the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company

The NNPC said last week that the consolidated capacity utilisation of the three government-owned refineries dropped to 23.09 per cent in May, from 24.59 per cent in April.

The third refinery being managed by the NNPC is the Port Harcourt Refining Company.

Although the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, in the new National Petroleum Policy approved by the Federal Executive Council, said the government aimed to make the refineries successful and commercially viable enterprises, it stressed that government was ready to sell any of them that failed to meet respond promptly.

It said, “They will be encouraged to become so and will be supported as much as it is within the government’s ability to do so. Each refinery will be given a transition period in which to set themselves up on their own feet.

“Ultimately though, if a refinery fails to make the transition and become commercially viable, the petroleum policy is for the government to divest (sell off), grant a concession or if necessary, close down any non-performing government-owned refinery. In either instance, the site may be handed over to a suitably qualified private sector developer to build a new refinery facility on the same site.”

According to the policy document, of the three NNPC refineries, Port Harcourt is expected to be the best place to succeed.

It said, “It has installed its own independent gas-fired power supply; it has undertaken its own turnaround maintenance; it is close to jetties and the pipeline length from crude oil suppliers is short (less of a pipeline security risk), and it is operationally ready to produce refined products to international standards, although the cost structure is still not right.

“Of the three, Kaduna is perhaps the least ready currently because of its distance from crude oil supplies and reliance on a poorly maintained crude oil pipeline.”

The government described a strong refining sector as a basic requirement for the achievement of the vision of converting the nation’s economy from a crude oil export to an oil product and derivative value-added economy.

It said without strong, high volume and commercially viable refineries within the country, the whole vision would not be achievable.

The government noted that the refineries had been underperforming for many years, stressing the need for the refining sector to undergo fundamental reform so that it could play its central part in economic development.

According to the policy document, steps that the government will take to encourage the development of a viable refining sector in the country include making the NNPC refineries become autonomous profit centres and returning storage depot assets to the refineries.

It said under the restructuring of the NNPC, the refineries would be set up as independent profit centres with responsibility for their own commercial operations.

The government noted that the storage depots were originally part of the refineries but had been subsequently transferred from the refineries to Pipeline and Product Marketing Company.

It said, “This arrangement is not considered to have been successful. The PPMC has failed to manage the depots effectively and the refineries have been denied an important part of their assets. The storage depots will, therefore, be returned to the refineries.

“In addition, the perimeter fence around the refineries will be set sufficiently far from the operations including depots to ensure that proper security can be maintained. Everything inside the perimeter fence will belong to the refinery solely and will be on each refinery’s asset register.”

The government said as part of their new independence, each of the refineries would be given commercial autonomy, meaning that they would be free to take crude oil from wherever they could get it.

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.

Economy

Nigeria Faces Fuel Crisis with Petrol Costs Surging to N978/Litre

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Nigeria is grappling with a severe fuel crisis as the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol, has skyrocketed to N978 per litre.

This surge, driven by a depreciating naira and rising international costs, has led to widespread fuel shortages and long queues at filling stations across the country.

The latest figures reveal that the landing cost—which includes the international price, shipping, insurance, and other charges—has increased from N720 per litre in October 2023.

This escalation is attributed to the naira’s depreciation, which hit a three-month low of N1,530 per dollar on the parallel market this week, exacerbating the already dire economic situation.

“The rising landing cost of petrol is a result of the escalating foreign exchange (FX) crisis. There are market interventions through subsidies, as most Nigerians cannot afford the market price for petrol,” a senior executive in the downstream sector explained.

Despite the federal government’s denial of an ongoing subsidy, a report from the finance minister, Wale Edun, projected that fuel subsidies could cost about N5.4 trillion in 2024, up from N3.6 trillion in 2023.

The fuel scarcity has led to black market prices soaring between N1,000 and N1,100 per litre, while some retail outlets in Abuja, Nasarawa, and Niger have hiked pump prices to N900 per litre.

Motorists have been forced to spend hours in queues, further straining their daily lives.

NNPC Limited attributed the current fuel queues to recent thunderstorms and logistical challenges disrupting activities at fuel-loading jetties.

The company assured stakeholders that it is working to resolve the situation and clear the queues.

“We have no problem covering our gasoline payments. This is just money for normal business and not a desperate act,” said Mele Kyari, the group’s general manager.

He also mentioned that NNPC is considering securing a $2 billion loan using crude oil pre-payments as collateral to support its business activities.

Aisha Mohammed, an energy analyst at the Lagos-based Centre for Development Studies, noted, “The government is partially subsidizing the commodity for political, social, and economic reasons. While economically sound, the social and political costs are significant.”

Market analysts have called for a review of dollar-based fee collections to reduce petrol costs. “We must resist the dollarization of the Nigerian economy. There are some fee collections in dollars that are also pushing up the landing cost of petrol,” a source said.

The Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) confirmed that NNPC is addressing the supply issues, but warned that the queues might persist for days, especially in locations far from major depots.

“Once they start loading, it takes some days to clear the queues. And don’t forget that filling stations in Abuja get products from Lagos, Oghara, Warri, Port Harcourt, or Calabar, and that takes more than three days turn-around time to accomplish,” said PETROAN president Billy Gillis-Harry.

He said there is a need for collaboration between the government, NNPC, and downstream operators to find a lasting solution to the fuel scarcity.

“We need a clearly defined council with grassroots knowledge of the business to project and address problems based on empirical evidence,” he stated.

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Economy

Egyptian Inflation Eases Despite Bread Price Hike

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Egyptian inflation eased for the fourth consecutive month in June despite a historic increase in the cost of subsidized bread that feeds a significant portion of the population.

Consumer prices in urban areas rose at an annual rate of 27.5%, down from 28.1% in May, according to the state statistics agency CAPMAS.

On a month-to-month basis, prices grew by 1.6%.

This latest deceleration comes after authorities implemented a 300% hike in the price of subsidized bread on June 1, the first such move since the 1970s.

Although some economists had anticipated an inflationary surge, the impact on overall inflation was minimal due to the relatively small weight of bread in the consumer price index, explained Mohamed Abu Basha, head of research at EFG Hermes.

Food and beverage prices, the largest component of Egypt’s inflation basket, increased by 31.9% year-on-year, compared to 31% in May, and rose 2.6% on a monthly basis.

Despite the ongoing challenges, the rate of inflation has been slowing for eight of the past nine months, even after a significant devaluation of the Egyptian pound in 2024, which saw the currency plummet almost 40% against the dollar.

The reduced inflation rate reflects how the lower value of the pound on the now-stabilized local black market had already been factored into retail pricing strategies.

Also, the country’s central bank maintained its interest rates at an all-time high in May, citing expectations for a significant decline in inflation during the first half of 2025.

Further subsidy reductions are anticipated as Egypt continues its economic reforms following a $57 billion bailout from the United Arab Emirates, the International Monetary Fund, and other international supporters.

Cairo-based EFG Hermes is among the institutions predicting a continued cooling of consumer costs throughout the remainder of the year.

Abu Basha noted that the gradual elimination of fuel subsidies and potential increases in power tariffs are expected to have a relatively minor effect on overall inflation.

However, recent shortages in domestic gas supplies, which caused temporary shutdowns at some fertilizer plants and contributed to widespread power cuts, remain a potential wildcard.

Despite the inflation slowdown, the Egyptian central bank is unlikely to reduce interest rates when it meets next week.

The IMF recently affirmed its agreement with Egypt that maintaining a tight monetary policy is crucial in the short term to bring inflation closer to the central bank’s target.

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Businesses Struggle as Petrol Scarcity Hits Major Nigerian Cities

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The pervasive impact of a severe petrol scarcity has thrown businesses across major Nigerian cities into disarray as long queues have started showing up at petrol stations.

In bustling urban centers like Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, scenes of frustrated commuters and distressed business owners paint a stark picture of the toll exacted by the ongoing fuel crisis.

Many petrol stations have either completely run out of fuel or are rationing limited supplies, forcing consumers to endure hours-long waits or turn to black market sellers who command prices as high as N1,000 per litre.

For Uche Adams, a Lagos-based trader, the petrol shortage has brought his business to a standstill for days.

“I have been out of business for two days because I have not been able to buy petrol,” lamented Adams, reflecting the widespread impact on small businesses reliant on transportation and generator power amidst erratic electricity supply.

The situation is equally dire in Abuja, where Adamu Abdullahi, operating a barber’s shop in Kubwa, described how the scarcity has slashed his operating hours and inflated his overhead costs.

“I have only operated for five hours today due to fuel scarcity. I can’t buy at any filling station and black marketers are selling higher than N1,000 per litre,” Abdullahi disclosed.

Behind the scenes, private depot owners in Lagos have exacerbated the crisis by hiking petrol prices from N630 to N720 per litre, citing logistical challenges and market dynamics.

This spike in prices at the source has cascaded down to consumers, with filling stations adjusting their rates upwards, compounding the financial strain on businesses and households alike.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has attributed the fuel scarcity to disruptions in ship-to-ship transfers during adverse weather conditions, which have hampered product deliveries to filling stations.

Olufemi Soneye, NNPC’s chief corporate communications officer, acknowledged the logistical hurdles exacerbated by recent thunderstorms and flooding on truck routes, hindering the smooth flow of petrol supply.

“Weather disruptions have affected berthing at jetties, truck load-outs, and transportation of products, compounding station supply logistics,” stated Soneye.

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