Nigeria on the brink of blackout due to rising fuel prices

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'Pullers' sell fuel along the road to motorists trying to avoid queues at petrol stations following fuel shortages, in Lagos on March 3, 2022.

Leaning against his 4X4, the front wet, Stephen rails against the midday heat and the interminable wait to recover the cans of diesel which will be used to supply the generator of the company for which he works, in Lagos. Young people from the neighborhood line up in his place at a nearby gas station. “It has become much too expensive to have it delivered by truck on certain days, so I have to make the trip myself, with my jerry cans”, explains the driver.

The price of diesel, which is usually around 225 naira per liter (0.50 euro) in Nigeria, doubled and then tripled, to approach 800 naira on March 18. A consequence of the Russian invasion in Ukraine which caused crude oil prices to soar on world markets.

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” We have turned off our diesel generator at the beginning of the week, because it was really too expensive for us”, laments Henry, the accountant of Solar Kitchen, a neat canteen nestled in a small street in the Ikoyi district. He points to the imposing machine, installed just next to the front door: “We urgently switched to a gasoline generator, which is less expensive but also less powerful. So we can no longer power all our electrical appliances, including air conditioners and some fridges. »

Despite being Africa’s largest crude oil producer, Nigeria has to import almost all of its fuel because none of its four refineries are operational. A paradoxical situation, which exposes the consumer to market fluctuations. To avoid a spike in prices at the pump, the Nigerian government massively subsidizes gasoline, the price of which is set at 165 naira. But, lately, service stations are struggling to meet demand.


In February, a severe fuel shortage pushed prices up to 1 euro per liter of gasoline on the parallel market. As is often the case, management problems explain this mismanagement: earlier this month, the national oil company – the NNPC – announced that 100 million liters of adulterated gasoline had been imported by mistake and had to be withdrawn from the market. The authorities also mentioned a delay in cargo ships carrying refined oil because of the war in Ukraine.

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