Nigeria: Russia’s Decision to Halt Petrol Export Poses Risk to Nigeria and Others

Nigeria: Russia’s Decision to Halt Petrol Export Poses Risk to Nigeria and Others

By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria

In a move that could disrupt Nigeria’s petrol importation, Russia has announced a six-month ban on petrol exports starting from March 1. The ban aims to ensure that Russia has enough fuel to meet domestic demand, as the country has been facing intermittent fuel shortages due to high demand and maintenance on refineries.

Russia, the world’s third-largest oil producer, produced 43.9 million tonnes of petrol in 2023 and exported approximately 5.76 million tonnes overseas, which accounted for about 13% of its total production. African countries, including Nigeria, Libya, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates, are the primary purchasers of Russian petrol.

Nigeria, in particular, saw a significant increase in petrol imports from Russia, with a surge of 84% within a year. In 2023, Nigeria imported 3.8 million litres (24,000 barrels) of petrol from Russia, compared to 558,300 litres (3,700 barrels) in 2022.

This ban on petrol exports comes as Russia seeks alternative markets after facing embargoes from the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States due to the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian government aims to maintain a stable fuel market during a period of high demand associated with spring agricultural works, the holiday season, and scheduled refinery repairs.

The government’s priority is to prevent fuel shortages in the local market, especially with upcoming elections next month, where President Vladimir Putin aims to maintain his control. Last year, Russia imposed a ban on exporting diesel and petrol, which resulted in difficulties for farmers in certain areas during grain harvesting due to fuel shortages.

The impact of Russia’s export ban on petrol remains to be seen, but it poses a risk to countries like Nigeria that heavily rely on Russian imports. These developments emphasize the need for diversification in the energy sector and exploring alternative sources of fuel to ensure energy security and stability in the face of such disruptions.

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