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Why fuel scarcity and achieving sustainable energy in Nigeria will continue to be a mirage- By Oyana Chukwuamaka Miracle

Jul 6, 2023

Fuel scarcity refers to… a situation where there is a shortage or limited availability of fuel, particularly petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. It often manifests as long queues at filling stations, rationing of fuel, or even complete unavailability in certain regions. While Sustainable energy efficiency ; refers to the practice of utilizing energy resources in a manner that maximizes energy productivity while minimizing waste, environmental impact, and carbon emissions .

In the Nigerian context, sustainable energy efficiency is crucial for addressing the challenges posed by fuel scarcity and ensuring a more resilient and sustainable energy system.
Fuel scarcity has been a recurring issue in Nigeria for several decades. While it is challenging to pinpoint an exact date when fuel scarcity first started, it can be traced back to various periods in Nigeria’s history. The first major fuel scarcity In Nigeria occurred in 1973, during the OPEC oil embargo. The embargo was a response to the support given by Western countries to Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
In the vast and resource-rich nation of Nigeria, fuel scarcity has become an all too familiar and distressing phenomenon for its citizens.

The scarcity of fuel, particularly petroleum products, has plagued the nation, disrupting daily life, and highlighting the urgent need for sustainable energy solutions. In this article, we not only talk but delve into the complex web of factors contributing to Nigeria’s fuel scarcity and explore potential paths toward a more energy-abundant future.
Historical perspective; To understand the present-day fuel scarcity in Nigeria, it is crucial to delve into the historical context. Nigeria, blessed with substantial oil reserves. The first major fuel scarcity In Nigeria occurred in 1973, during the OPEC oil embargo. The embargo was a response to the support given by Western countries to Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The embargo led to a global oil crisis, and Nigeria was not immune to its effects. The country experienced a severe fuel shortage, which led to long queues at petrol stations and rationing of fuel.

Insufficient Refining Capacity; One of the core reasons for Nigeria’s fuel scarcity is its heavy reliance on fuel imports due to limited domestic refining capacity. In November 2020, Mele Kyari, group managing director of NNPC, said the refineries were shut down because operations were no longer sustainable. The Federal Executive Council had in March last year approved the plan by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery with $1.5bn.Despite being an oil-producing nation, Nigeria’s refineries have failed to meet the growing demand for petroleum products. Frequent breakdowns, outdated equipment, and insufficient maintenance have rendered these refineries ineffective. As a result, Nigeria heavily depends on importing refined products, making it vulnerable to global market fluctuations and logistical challenges.

Corruption and Smuggling ;Corruption and fuel smuggling further inflame Nigeria’s fuel scarcity woes. Illicit practices such as diversion of subsidized fuel, illegal refining, and smuggling across borders have created a parallel market that perpetuates scarcity and drives up prices. These nefarious activities siphon off significant quantities of fuel, depriving the legitimate market and contributing to the perpetuation of scarcity.
Inconsistent Policies; Inconsistency in government policies and subsidies has also played a role in Nigeria’s fuel scarcity. Frequent changes in fuel pricing mechanisms, subsidy regimes, and importation policies have created an atmosphere of uncertainty for investors, hampering the growth of the petroleum sector.
Need for Diversification; Nigeria’s overreliance on fossil fuels makes mention the urgent need for diversification of its energy sources. The nation possesses abundant renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. Embracing renewable energy technologies can reduce the demand for imported fuel, promote energy independence, and stimulate economic growth in Nigeria society. Encouraging investment in renewable energy projects and making a favorable regulatory environment are crucial steps toward achieving sustainable energy security.
Infrastructure Development Investing; in critical infrastructure is vital to overcome Nigeria’s fuel scarcity challenges. Upgrading and expanding refining capacity, constructing new pipelines, and strengthening distribution networks are key areas that require attention with the aim to stop fuel scarcity in Nigeria. Additionally, the government must prioritize the maintenance and modernization of existing infrastructure to ensure efficient and uninterrupted fuel supply across the country.
Nigeria’s struggle with fuel scarcity is a multifaceted issue that demands immediate attention and concerted efforts from various stakeholders.
Nigeria has experienced fuel scarcity issues in the past due to a variety of factors. While I cannot provide real-time information as my reaches only goes up until September 2021, I can suggest some potential solutions that may help alleviate fuel scarcity in Nigeria. It’s important to note that the effectiveness of these solutions may vary.
Increase domestic refining capacity; The country currently has four refineries, but they are not functioning at full capacity. Nigeria heavily relies on imported refined petroleum products, which makes it vulnerable to supply disruptions and price fluctuations. Investing in expanding and upgrading domestic refineries can help reduce dependence on imports and enhance the country’s ability to meet its own fuel demands.
Enhance pipeline security; Recently the incidents of pipeline vandalism in Nigeria contribute to fuel scarcity. Strengthening security measures, employing advanced surveillance technologies, and increasing the presence of security forces along the pipelines can help prevent illegal tapping and ensure a smooth flow of petroleum products, which is a way to prevent fuel scarcity.
Improve distribution infrastructure; Modernizing and expanding the distribution infrastructure, including storage facilities, and transportation networks in the society , can help streamline the movement of fuel across the country. This would ensure efficient delivery to different regions , and reducing the likelihood of scarcity due to logistical challenges.
Promote alternative energy sources; It’s Diversifying the energy mix and promoting the use of alternative energy sources, such as renewable energy and natural gas, can help reduce the reliance on petroleum products for power generation and transportation. This would free up more and more fuel for essential purposes and decrease the pressure on the existing supply of fuel for the country .
Strengthen regulatory oversight; Effective regulation and monitoring of the downstream petroleum sector are crucial to prevent hoarding, smuggling, and other illegal activities that contribute to fuel scarcity. Strengthening regulatory bodies, ensuring compliance with standards, and enforcing penalties for infractions can help maintain a stable and reliable fuel supply for the benefit of the country.

Encourage fuel conservation and efficiency; Implementing awareness campaigns and policies that promote fuel conservation and efficiency can help manage the demand and reduce the strain on the fuel supply. This can include promoting public transportation, and encouraging energy-saving practices in industries and households.
It is important to recognize that addressing fuel scarcity in Nigeria requires a long-term approach. These solutions should be implemented in combination, and challenges faced by the country. Additionally, collaboration between the government, and other stakeholders is essential to achieve sustainable improvements in the availability and accessibility of fuel.

Oyana Chukwuamaka miracle
A student of Delta State University, Oleh campus.

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