06 February 2017, Abuja – Total imports of petroleum products from the United States into Nigeria fell to 2.304 million barrels last year, the lowest in nine years, according to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration.
The country’s imports of petroleum products from the US peaked at 18.688 million barrels in 2014, but plunged to 10.475 million barrels in 2015, indicating about 78 per cent drop compared to the latest f igure.
Finished motor gasoline (petrol), kerosene and jet fuel (aviation fuel) are the major products imported from the US into Nigeria, the data from the EIA showed.
Other products imported from the US include liquefied petroleum gas (cooking gas), fuel ethanol (renewable), petroleum coke and lubricants.
It was in February that the US kerosene was last imported into the country, with the volume put at 306,000 barrels. In 2015, Nigeria imported 1.866 million barrels of the US kerosene, up from 1.427 million barrels in 2014.
Petrol was only imported into the country from the US in February, October and November last year, totalling 843,000 barrels, compared to 6.866 million barrels in 2014; and 615,000 barrels in 2015.
The volume of jet fuel bought from the US dropped to 181,000 barrels last year from 5.093 million barrels in 2015 and 8.81 million in 2014.
Since late 2015, many fuel marketers have stopped or drastically reduced their importation of petroleum products into the country largely due to the delay in the payment of subsidy arrears and foreign exchange scarcity.
On May 11, 2016, the Federal Government announced a new petrol price band of N135 to N145 per litre, a development that signalled the end of fuel subsidy.
Despite the liberalisation of the fuel market, many marketers have yet to start importing petroleum products.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in its latest monthly report, said it remained the major importer of petroleum products, especially petrol, in spite of liberalisation of petroleum products and government’s intervention meant to ease the marketers’ access to foreign exchange.
In the past, marketers were importing 70 per cent of the products, while the NNPC was bringing in the balance, being the supplier of last resort.
Marketers have in recent months been relying on supply from the NNPC, which is now responsible for about 90 per cent of the importation of the product and sells to marketers at N131 per litre.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude oil producer, depends on importation to meet its domestic fuel demand, creating a lucrative market for foreign refiners.
The growth in the importation of petroleum products has been largely due to the low domestic refining capacity in the country.
The country’s four refineries have over the years operated far less than their combined nameplate capacity of 445,000 barrels per day.
The NNPC had recently noted that local refining capacity remained below commercial threshold due to prolonged turnaround maintenance issues and supply disruption due to pipeline vandalism and crude oil losses.
“However, the ongoing restoration of refineries and associated facilities is expected to improve the situation,” the corporation said.