Nigeria Fuel Fiasco Has Caused Shock to Economy, Stats Head Says

(Bloomberg) —

Gasoline shortages in Africa’s largest crude producer have left several motorists trapped in long queues at gas stations and few on the roads leading to a sharp rise in transport fares.

A commuter, Cynthia Favour, 28, said in the capital Abuja, that the scarcity has led to an increase in the cost of going to the office. “I used to spend 200 naira (48 cents) a day to get to work and back, but now I am spending 1,000 naira,” she said.

The fiasco has caused an “unnecessary shock” to the Nigerian economy that could lead to a spike in inflation and slowdown economic growth, Statistician-General Simon Harry said Tuesday. “It is a negative signal that is capable of affecting not just the inflation rate, but also other macroeconomic variables,” he said.

At 15.6%, inflation is still high, and an acceleration will further burden Africa’s most-populous nation, where more than 39% of Nigerians live on less than $1.90 a day.

Long fuel queues started appearing in the West Africa nation this month after the state-owned energy company, the sole importer of petroleum products, rejected some cargoes because they were unsuitable for domestic consumption. The cargoes were found to have elevated methanol content, the industry’s midstream and downstream regulator said on Twitter.

Read more: Gasoline Roars Ever Higher as Nigeria Fiasco Tightens Market

Nigeria imports its gasoline requirements and heavily subsidizes consumption domestically.

While the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. has since ramped up imports to close the supply gap, gas stations across the country are still not getting enough fuel to sell. A thriving black market has since emerged where the product trades for about five times the official subsidized prices of 165 naira (40 US cents) a liter.

The fuel crisis is “decimating income revenues for ride hailing drivers,” said Justin Curtis, 35, to an Uber driver who, as at 11.30 am local time, said that he had been in a queue for about 18 hours having spent the night at the gas station.

“We are losing money and our customers are also stranded.”

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