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World

Nigeria Apologizes for Fuel Woes as Frustration Mounts

Fuel shortage caused frustration and long lines in Africa's top oil-producing country

Cars queue to buy fuel at a petrol station in Abuja,, Photo: Associated Press/Sunday Alamba.
1 year ago

ABUJA – Fuel lines stretched for more than a kilometer (half-mile) on Friday in Nigeria’s capital because of a fuel shortage in sub-Saharan Africa’s top oil-producing country.

Nigeria's oil minister apologized this week for a fuel shortage that has created long lines at gas stations and left travelers stranded on highways. Photo: Associated Press/Sunday Alamba.

Nigeria’s oil minister apologized this week for a fuel shortage that has created long lines at gas stations and left travelers stranded on highways. Photo: Associated Press/Sunday Alamba.

Drivers in Abuja groaned and shouted in frustration when one station closed because it was apparently out of fuel.

Smaller lines formed outside private gas stations charging higher than the government rate, and young men lined highways waving cans of fuel that is often adulterated and damaging.

Nigeria’s oil minister, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, apologized on Tuesday for the shortage which has left many travelers stranded on highways this week.

Kachikwu told the Senate that the government is “pained” by the crisis and promised to bring an end to the disruption by the second week of April. Analysts, however, say it will take longer to resolve a shortage they say is the product of longstanding refinery issues and pipeline outages.

During his Senate appearance, Kachikwu also apologized for responding to earlier questions about the fuel shortage by stating that he was “not a magician.”

Tricycle taxis drive past cars queuing to buy fuel at a petrol station in Kano, Nigeria. Photo: Associated Press/Sunday Alamba.

Tricycle taxis drive past cars queuing to buy fuel at a petrol station in Kano, Nigeria. Photo: Associated Press/Sunday Alamba.

He said, however, that the energy problems Nigeria’s government inherited when it took over last year were “unbelievable.”

The problem lies primarily with Nigeria’s aging refineries “which are not functioning effectively even when they are well supplied,” said Charles Swabey, oil and gas analyst at London-based BMI Research.

These deficiencies have been exacerbated recently by unplanned pipeline outages that have created more uncertainty in domestic supply, Swabey said. The outages include those caused by attacks on strategic oil and gas installations in the southern Niger Delta.

Some consumers suspect some oil marketers in Nigeria are creating the shortage for profit.

“There’s fuel, they just refuse to sell it,” cab driver Muhammadu Jakawa said.

HARUNA UMAR

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