The amount spent on the importation of petroleum products into Nigeria rose to N700.46bn in the third quarter of this year, moving closer to the pre-COVID-19 level, the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics have shown.
The amount is more than three times the N221.47bn spent on fuel imports in the previous quarter, but 44.08 per cent lower than the N1.25tn incurred in the first three months of the year.
Fuel consumption and imports plunged to record low in Q2 amid the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation showed that the volume of petrol imported into the country through the Direct Sale Direct Purchase scheme fell from a high of 2.25 billion litres in March to 1.81 billion litres in April and 495.10 million litres in May.
Under the DSDP scheme, selected overseas refiners, trading companies and indigenous companies are allocated crude supplies in exchange for the delivery of an equal value of petrol and other refined products to the NNPC.
The country’s refineries have remained in a state of disrepair for many years despite several reported repairs.
The NNPC has been the major importer of petroleum products into the country in recent years.
In a related development, oil prices dropped on Monday as tougher lockdowns from New York to London worsened the picture for fuel consumption before a vaccine is widely available.
The international oil benchmark, Brent, fell below the $50 per barrel mark to $49.93 per barrel as of 7:10 pm Nigerian time on Monday.
London is increasing pandemic restrictions this week amid warnings of a new variant of the disease, while New York City’s mayor said residents should be prepared for a full lockdown, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries reduced projections for global fuel consumption in the first quarter of 2021 by one million barrels per day.
Oil had rallied earlier on Monday following an explosion at the Saudi port of Jeddah. Saudi Arabia said a terrorist attack was behind the incident, but that it didn’t affect fuel supplies.