o2 January 2015, Lagos – Nigeria’s monthly import of kerosene from the United States hit the highest in October last year since 1995, when the country imported its first cargo from the US, data obtained from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the US Energy Department, has shown.
The country imported 309,000 barrels of kerosene from the US, emerging the largest importer of the fuel from America in the month of October, according to the EIA data released this week. It brought in its second-largest kerosene cargo of 292,000 barrels in February.
Nigeria was followed by Canada, which imported 6,000 barrels, and Liberia, 4,000 barrels, while Australia, Colombia, Netherlands, Russia and Kazakhstan imported just 1,000 barrels each.
The country imported a total of 1.118 million barrels of US kerosene from January to October, already more than the yearly total since 1995. In 2013, 1.040 million barrels were imported; 272,000 barrels in 2012; 1,000 barrels in 2009; 4,000 barrels in 2008; and 1,000 barrels in 1995, according to the EIA data.
The country also imported 1.464 million barrels of US jet fuel in October, up from 585,000 barrels in September. The largest volume so far in the year being 1.505 million barrels imported in August.
An energy specialist at Ecobank, Mr. Dolapo Oni, had in an emailed response to questions from our correspondent in December noted the growing import of kerosene, jet fuel and gasoline from the US where crude oil is priced off the West Texas Intermediate, which is relatively cheaper than Brent.
“As oil production in the US rises, we can see more fuel exports to Nigeria from US refiners looking for markets for their fuel. We can see a faster fall in the landing cost of fuel products as US oil production increases,” he said.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude oil producer, depends on importation to meet domestic fuel demand, creating a lucrative market for refiners in the US, Europe and other African countries such as Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire.
Fuel import bills increased by 50.2 per cent to $4.01bn in the second quarter of the year from $2.67bn in the first quarter, according to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The growth in oil sector imports was mainly facilitated by the low domestic refining capacity, which induced increased importation of fuel to meet domestic demand,” the CBN said.
The country’s four refineries have over the years operated far less than their combined nameplate capacity of 445,000 barrels per day.
The Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company and Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, with combined capacity of 235,000 bpd, were completely idle in September, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said in its latest monthly report.
An energy expert and Senior Lecturer, Energy Law at the University of Lagos, Dr. Dayo Ayoade, in a telephone interview with our correspondent said, “None of the refineries has been fixed. The best thing is to sell off the refineries, but there are a lot interests against the sale of the assets.”
Industry analysts and stakeholders have continued to stress the need to deregulate the downstream sector of the industry to attract private investment in order to ramp up the country’s refining capacity.
– The Punch