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‘Unendurable’ Households groan under skyrocketing cooking gas, kerosene prices

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‘Unendurable’ Households groan under skyrocketing cooking gas, kerosene prices

The country was thrown into an uproar with newly released reports by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics that prices of cooking kerosene and cooking gas rose by 99 per cent and 122 per cent respectively, OpeOluwani Akintayo writes

For Mrs Jane Okebiorun, a petty trader at Jakande Estate area of Lagos State, coping with the constantly increasing cooking kerosene prices is becoming unbearable for her and her six-member family.

Her husband, Mr John Okebiorun, is a roadside mechanic whose earnings are not ever enough to take them through the month. He gives her a monthly upkeep of N30, 000 which she has to manage to put food on the family’s table.

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“I am even tired of cutting costs because each time you go to buy things at the market, you would notice that the price you bought last week is not the same price it would be sold this week,” she lamented.

“My family can’t even afford cooking gas. So, I try to buy seven litres of kerosene every month, and make sure I manage it because we don’t make as much money as we used to. Times are hard. One litre of kerosene, which we used to buy for as low as N150 per litre in 2020, is now as high as N1000. I’ve never witnessed this kind of hardship in my entire life until recently,” she added.

Data obtained from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, said the average retail price per litre of household kerosene, otherwise known as cooking kerosene, paid by consumers in

July 2022 was N789.75, indicating an increase of 3.68 per cent compared to N761.69 recorded in June 2022.

On a year-on-year basis, the average retail price per litre of the product rose by 99 per cent from N397 in July 2021.

On state profile analysis, the highest average price per litre in July 2022 was recorded

in Enugu with N1,004, followed by Ekiti with N989 and Osun with N949.

On the other hand, the lowest price was recorded in Bayelsa with N643, followed by Benue whose price was N655 and Rivers with N655.

In addition, analysis by zone showed that the South-West recorded the highest average retail price per litre with N901, followed by the South-East whose cost was N892 and North-Central with

N762, while the South-South recorded the lowest with N727.

The average retail price per gallon paid by consumers in July 2022 was N2,888, showing an increase of 7.98 per cent from N2,673 in June 2022.

On a year-on-year basis, this increased by 122 per cent from N1,302 in July 2021.

On state profile analysis, Abuja recorded the highest average retail price per gallon with N3,600, followed by Enugu with N3,501 and Ekiti with N3,450.

On the other hand, Zamfara recorded the lowest price with N2,430, followed by Borno and Gombe with N2,500, and N2,530 respectively.

Analysis by zone showed that the South-West recorded the highest average retail price per gallon with N3,187, followed by the South-East and North-Central with N3,131 and N2,921 respectively, while the North-East recorded the lowest with N2,597.

State oil company, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation,  had halted the importation of the product, leading to continuous hike in prices by independent marketers. The NNPC has also not been able to produce any drop for a couple of years now due to the non-functionality of refineries.

Although the NBS’ reports do not state Nigeria’s current daily cooking kerosene consumption, available statistics from as far back as 2017 put supply by the company at 5m litres out of national daily consumption requirement of 8m litres.

The balance of three million litres of the product is filled by imports by private petroleum products marketers.

The global average price of kerosene for this period is around N488 per litre.

Findings also showed that Nigeria ranks 2nd on world’s highest kerosene price list, with N762, while Seychelles sells at the highest price of N 939.

A middle-class banker with one of the high-rising financial institutions in Lagos state, Mrs Nike Ogunjimi, said the skyrocketing cooking gas prices were affecting her family negatively.

Narrating her ordeal, she said her four-member family now rationed their gas usage due to high prices.

“Unfortunately for my family, from 2020 till today, there has not been any increase in salary, nothing! Instead, what we get is an increase in the cost of living. Prices of foods are hitting us hard, and gas is not helping matters at all. In August, I filled a 12.5kg cylinder for N11, 000 from around N3500 that we bought in 2020. And the price is still increasing because it’s now N11, 500. Where are we going in this country for God’s sake? I don’t blame those running away to better economies,” she said.

The NBS said on a year-on-year basis, the price of refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, also known as cooking gas, increased by 122 per cent from N4,422 in July 2021.

Ebonyi recorded the highest average retail price for the refilling of a 12.5kg cylinder with N11,212, followed by Delta with N10,926 and Ekiti with N10,883.

Conversely, the lowest average price was recorded in Katsina with N8,355, followed by Yobe and Kano with N8,383 and N8,614 respectively.

On a year-on-year basis, this rose by 105.35 per cent from N2,141.59 in July 2021.

On state profile analysis, Adamawa recorded the highest average price for refilling a 5kg

cylinder with N4,967, followed by Plateau with N4,650, Kwara and Gombe with N4,625 each.

On the other hand, Kano recorded the lowest price with N3,981, followed by Yobe and Bauchi with N4,000 and N4,071 respectively.

In addition, analysis by zone showed that the North-Central recorded the highest average retail

price for refilling a 5kg cylinder with N4,553, followed by the North-East with N4,457, while the North-West recorded the lowest with N4,218.

Also, the average retail price for refilling a 12.5kg cylinder increased by 3.56 per cent on a month-on-month basis from N9,486 in June 2022 to N9,824 in July 2022. On a year-on-year basis, this rose by 122.15 per cent from N4,422 in July 2021.

On state profile analysis, Ebonyi recorded the highest average retail price for the refilling of a 12.5kg cylinder with N11,212, followed by Delta, N10,927, and Ekiti with N10,884.

Analysis by zone showed that the South-West recorded the highest average retail price for refilling a 12.5kg cylinder with N10,335, followed by the South -South with N10,239, while the North-East recorded the lowest price of N9,139.

While delivering his speech at a conference last week, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, reiterated that “Nigeria has declared gas as its transition fuel to facilitate cleaner energy utilisation,” adding that the horizon for the gas-led transition was bright.

According to him, the power sector used to be the primary gas off-taker at 80 per cent utilisation, but, in recent years, growth in the gas-based industry and commercial segments had seen a drop to only 60 per cent.

The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, used to supply 40 per cent of the gas utilised in the country while independent marketers imported 60 per cent.

However, due to scarcity of forex and the ongoing Russia/Ukraine war, the NLNG currently supplies the entire market, leading to shortages in supplies.

Former Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Tunji Oyebanji, had told The PUNCH in an interview that increasing gas prices was a function of prices at the international market.

“Both kerosene and gas are deregulated, and as such, their prices are controlled by whatever we buy at the international market. Prices are market driven,” he said.

Former Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI president, Muda Yusuf, said government’s intervention was quickly needed to bring down costs of the product for the sake of the poor.

“The astronomical increase in the price of cooking kerosene and gas will further aggravate the poverty situation in the country. Cooking kerosene is not a luxury, it is a necessity. It is bad enough that we are grappling with high food inflation, and now there is an additional burden of an escalating cost of means of cooking the food. So, for the average Nigerians and the poor, this is an added burden, and obviously, the impact on poverty will be profound. It has implications for hunger, food security, and things like this have a way of creating social tension in the country.

“Many households have even resorted to the use of firewood, charcoal, and all of these are not consistent with the current policy on deforestation, and climate change. So, it is very important that urgent steps are taken to intervene in bringing down the cost of cooking kerosene. This is particularly very important because of the impact of the high cost on the poor,” he said.

The Federal Government has said it intends to deepen local gas usage through its National Gas Expansion Programme.

While delivering the keynote address at the Association of Energy Correspondents of Nigeria’s annual conference recently held in Lagos, Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, said to solve the energy poverty, the country had to increase access to clean cooking fuel such as gas.

The NNPC GCEO harped on the use of  gas as the country’s transition energy.

“The oil and gas sector is undergoing a transition, and transition means bringing value to the table with respect to the local and international challenges. And this means to make sure that energy poverty is tackled through the use of gas as transition fuel,” he said.

According to him, part of the steps being taken by the NNPC Ltd was geared towards improving  the gas penetration programmes of the Federal Government.

“The national expansion programme will unlock 2.5gigawatts of electricity, and then 600 tonnes of LPG annually,” he added.

Shell Nigeria Gas Limited said it had commissioned a far-reaching gas market survey in 33 per cent of the states in Nigeria to gain deeper market insights for entry and accelerate the achievement of Nigeria’s Decade of Gas objectives.

 

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