A worsening fuel shortage in Nigeria has forced motorists into long queues at the pump and complicated their plans for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
Nigeria, a major oil producer and Africa’s largest economy, relies on crude exports for over half of its government revenues..
But despite exporting some 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, Nigeria’s limited manufacturing capacity forces it to remain almost wholly reliant on imported gasoline. The country uses the profits from its nationally-owned crude exports to pay for the import of that refined fuel.
But a worsening economic crisis in the country, complicated by a global loss of demand for oil products, has brought down the balance of trade significantly — down to $3.2 billion in the third quarter, from $14.4 billion a year ago.
It is a major loss for Nigeria’s ability to pay for gasoline imports, resulting in shortages across the country.
One motorist in the capital of Abuja told Reuters he had already waited four hours to receive his turn at a petrol station.
“This morning, I was up by 4 am to join this queue and this is by my time about 25 minutes past eight. So you can see it’s about a period of four hours and — for me to get fuel,” businessman Kenneth Adika said. “And of course this is a Yuletide (Christmas) period we are into and of course you know people are supposed to be travelling. So to get yourself on the road you need to go through a lot of stress and it has really affected us so badly.”
Idika says Nigeria’s government needs to figure out a permanent solution to the massive fuel shortages that has lingered on for months.