The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has reverted to being the sole importer of petrol into the country, reversing its previous decision to allow private companies to import fuel.
This change, revealed by NNPCL Group Chief Executive Officer Mele Kyari at the Energy Labour Summit in Abuja, was attributed to difficulties faced by private companies in accessing foreign exchange for imports. Kyari highlighted their limited access to foreign exchange, unlike NNPCL, which generates foreign exchange internally.
Earlier, Kyari had announced in June 2023 that private companies would be allowed to import fuel, aligning with President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to deregulate the fuel market.
However, Kyari’s recent revelation has raised concerns about the possible return of the petrol subsidy regime. Oil and Gas analyst Kayode Oluwadare suggested that deregulation was meant to enable independent marketers to import petrol independently. The government’s decision to restore NNPCL as the sole importer indicates a shift back to the subsidy regime.
Oluwadare noted that this change might keep petrol pump prices stable or slightly reduce them due to the prevailing global trend, with no immediate likelihood of price increases. The situation reflects the government’s ongoing struggle to balance market dynamics and public expectations in the face of the subsidy removal.