Nigeria No Longer Paying Subsidy—Minister

The Minister of State for Petroleum (Oil), Mr Heineken Lokpobiri, has reiterated that Nigeria is no longer paying fuel subsidy, following widespread indications that the country still subsidises premium motor spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol.

Recall that some stakeholders, including oil marketers, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have claimed that the country continues to pay subsidies to cushion high fuel costs.

Speaking in an interview on the back of the 25th anniversary of Nigeria’s democracy, Mr Lokpobiri stated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited had the statutory responsibility to step in anytime things were getting out of hand.

“Let me say categorically that the president had rightly said, on the day he was sworn in, he said subsidy is gone. The president was misunderstood. The last government did not make any provision for subsidy in the 2023 budget.

“I can confirm to you that the subsidy is gone. But there could be strategic interventions from time to time. But officially, the subsidy is gone. If you look at the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the NNPC, as a national oil company, also has a legal obligation to intervene from time to time,” the Minister stated.

He argued that without the subsidy removal, Nigeria would have been like Venezuela, stressing that the president is not appreciated well enough for the decision to remove the fuel subsidy.

Mr Lokpobiri also said the Port Harcourt refinery will start working before the end of the third quarter of the year, indicating a new date from December 2023 previously announced for the commencement of operations.

“I’m not there. I’m not there in the Port Harcourt refinery. These were projects that I met on the ground. When I came, I visited all the refineries. It is what they briefed me. The brief they gave to me, I told Nigeria that these refineries would be ready sometime.

“I also do know that I went to Port Harcourt in December when it first came on. I’ve also gone to Warri, and advanced work has been done. Port Harcourt, from reports available to me, shows that hydrocarbon has been introduced.

“But the point is that we are doing whatever we can to ensure that we complete the rehabilitation of these three refineries. The report available to me shows that within the next quarter…within means that it could be next week, it could be within the next quarter that hydrocarbon will be refined and be sold to the public.”

The Minister also said he had been told by the national oil company that Nigeria’s total daily petrol consumption now hovered between 50 million litres and 60 million litres.

On daily oil production, Mr Lokpobiri stated that Nigeria was currently drilling an average of 1.5 million barrels per day, stressing that the country has been able to reduce oil theft to the barest minimum, which is the reason for the production increase.

“That is why you’re also seeing part of the output. Like I said, when we came into office, we were doing an average of one million barrels per day. The fact that we’re doing about 1.5 million barrels on average is a 50 per cent increment. And I can assure you that we’ll do whatever we can to continue to increase oil production,” he said.

By Adedapo Adesanya 

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