Maiduguri Residents Scramble For Petroleum Products Over Possible Price Hike

As common with other states bordering neighbouring countries, petroleum products in Borno, Northeast Nigeria, have ready domestic and transborder markets, and frequent fluctuations characterise their prices.

Although the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic also produce petroleum, ‘the Nigerian PMS (premium motor spirit) lasts longer than our own,’ in the words of Abbas Jidda, a commercial driver residing in the Gamboru Potokol border town of Cameroon. Abbas added that Nigerian fuel lasts almost twice as long as his country’s. This has created a market for smuggled products and made transborder trades a lucrative business for decades.

But with the outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgency and the closure of major roads and borders by authorities, petroleum smuggling became almost impossible for locals. The lucrative business was taken over by the insurgents controlling these zones. 

The removal of petroleum subsidy by the Muhammadu Buhari administration made domestic fuel prices more susceptible to international price fluctuations. However, the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) still controls price ceilings, and marketers are free to reduce prices to entice potential buyers.

Now $63 per barrel, the crude oil price has recorded a hike during the past weeks, indicating the possibility of an increase in domestic price. A couple of filling stations visited by HumAngle in Maiduguri were seen not dispensing fuel. “There is no fuel,” announced a fuel attendant at Bintu Oil along Gamboru Ngala road, who identified herself as Mahmuda. It consequently became a lucrative day for roadside petroleum vendors selling petroleum for as high as N250 per litre.

Diesel, which is relatively available in some filling stations and has a more uniform price with local vendors, is sold for N240 per litre. “The marketers have fuel but don’t want to sell it because they are expecting petrol price to be increased to N200 per litre,” Bukar Gana, a Keke NAPEP (commercial tricycle) rider parking at a Forte Oil filling station in Maiduguri. Bukar added, “It is all speculation because oil price has risen at the International market.”

When crude oil price rises, it correspondingly affects the cost of petroleum imports and eventually domestic prices. 

Another factor observed to have spiked petroleum price in Maiduguri was the increased demand for fuel to power generators. There has been a massive increase in the use of power generators due to outages that have plunged the city into perpetual darkness since Jan. 26 due to the breakdown of transmission lines along Maiduguri-Damaturu road. The collapse of some transmission towers caused the breakdown. HumAngle understands that Transmission Company Nigeria (TCN) engineers have been battling to repair the damage for some time.

Queues of jerry cans were seen in some filling stations as residents struggled to get fuel for their generators. “They are selling a litre of petroleum for N175, and they are saying they don’t have enough fuel,” said Salmanu Musa, who his boss sent to buy fuel at AUN filling station in Maiduguri for their company’s power generator.

Although international oil prices are dynamic, prices are still expected to rise due to increasing demands for fuel characteristic of the winter season coupled with the ongoing power outage, noted Alhaji Bukar, a petroleum products dealer in the state capital.

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