There are strong indications that fuel price may scale the N145/litre mark if forex for importation of petrol continues to elude marketers. Reuters reports that there is a growing fleet of tankers stuck off Nigeria unable to unload their cargoes of diesel and petrol indicating that another fuel crisis is looming on the horizon.
At least 75 ships with two and a half million tonnes of fuel are waiting for importers to find the dollars they need to pay for the cargoes, according to ship tracking data and fuel traders.
Some of the vessels arrived a month ago and their frustrated owners have almost given up hope and started to offer their fuel to buyers outside Nigeria, several traders told Reuters.
In a bid to break the impasse and head off more fuel shortages, the federal government raised the price cap for petrol by 67 percent, officially sanctioned importers to use the black market to find the hard currency they need to get cargoes off the ships and allowed any Nigerian company to import fuel.
But the so-called parallel market has struggled to cope with the demand for U.S. dollars that followed the reforms.
Nigeria consumes 45 million litres of gasoline a day, or roughly 280,000 barrels, which would require the market to provide some $18 million a day. Though importers cover about 30 percent of this, with the state oil firm covering the rest, it is still a big strain on the market for dollars.
The naira has already weakened due to the spike in demand for dollars from fuel importers. Last week, the U.S. currency fell to 324 naira on the parallel market, whereas the official exchange rate has been held firm just under 200.
“The risk is that the parallel rate will depreciate even more, giving the marketers a pretext for yet further price increases at the pump,” said Alan Cameron, an economist covering Africa with Exotix Partners.
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