Nigeria to Stop Fuel Importation in 2023, Says Petroleum Minister

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Sylva's disclosure is coming at a time when Nigeria is experiencing biting fuel scarcity in many of its states, with fears that the forthcoming holiday period of Christmas and New Year would, as usual, be marred by the scarcity of the product.

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, expressed optimism on Tuesday that the country will end the importation of petroleum products next year.

Sylva said the completion of rehabilitation work on the Port Harcourt Refinery in the oil-producing Niger Delta will see the plant delivering 60,000 barrels of refined crude oil per day by the end of December. He also said he expects the new Dangote Refinery in Lagos to come on stream by the first half of next year to boost the local supply of petroleum products.

The minister’s disclosure is coming at a time when Nigeria is experiencing biting fuel scarcity in many of its states, with fears that the forthcoming holiday period of Christmas and New Year would, as usual, be marred by the scarcity of the product.

“We’re expecting that we will actually be exiting the importation of petroleum products from maybe about the third quarter next year if I was to give it a longer timeframe, but I believe that even before the third quarter next year,” Sylva said.

Speaking to reporters in Abuja, Sylva noted that Nigeria’s production of crude has seen an improvement to about 1.3 million barrels per day from under 1 million barrels previously. He said the country hoped to meet its OPEC quota by May 2023.

Oil is the biggest export earner in Nigeria, but crude theft and vandalism of pipelines have cut oil and gas output, knocking the West African country from its spot as the top-producing oil country in Africa.

Nigeria swaps its crude oil for refined petroleum products, but the country is in the process of modernising the Port Harcourt refinery at a cost of $1.5 billion.

With high global oil prices, the country wants to begin refining its own fuels. Its previous efforts to revamp its refineries stalled, leaving it reliant on imports.

Scarcity of the premium motor spirit, also known as petrol, is currently being witnessed in the states of Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Oyo, and Cross River as well as the Federal Capital Abuja, among others.

Most fuel stations in these states are currently under lock and key, without a drop of the commodity, while the few that have the product for sale are besieged by queues of commercial and private vehicles.