Although Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, it is also one of the continent's largest importer of refined petroleum products.
However, despite being a net importer of refined petroleum products, including petrol, no Nigerian government agency has the authentic data on the daily petrol consumption in the country, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has declared.
The Statistician General of the Federation, Yemi Kale, told PREMIUM TIMES all data currently in circulation in the media and some government agencies were either outdated or guesstimates.
Mr Kale, who spoke on Friday in Abuja through his technical assistant, Esiri Ojo, during a telephone interview with our reporter, said these estimated data cannot be relied upon for planning or policy decisions.
"At the moment we (NBS) do not have any reliable data on fuel consumption yet. We are working on a survey that would provide the information for the sector. Every other figure you hear being carried about by various agencies, and even the media, are just guesstimates," Mr Ojo said.
The NBS is Nigeria's central repository of all data and statistics on all activities in all sectors of the country's economy.
CONFLICTING NNPC, PPPRA DATA
The spokesperson of state-owned oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ndu Ughamadu, also confirmed the country was yet to have reliable fuel consumption data.
"The NNPC has no confirmed data or statistics on fuel consumption in the country. The corporation relies on figures provided by PPPRA (Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency)," Mr Ughamadu said in a telephone chat with PREMIUM TIMES.
PPPRA is the regulatory agency responsible for fuel price modulation in the country.
But, even PPPRA figures are as fluid as the purpose they would be used for.
In 2012, when fuel subsidy was still part of the country's fuel pricing template, consumption figures grew geometrically from below 30 million litres per day to almost 60 million litres.
The NNPC and the PPPRA have conflicting data on petrol consumption
Fuel marketers used the figure to make subsidy claims from government for supply of petroleum products.
On February 7, 2017, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, told a House of Representatives committee that daily consumption of petrol was 28 million litres.
The minister said the figure dropped from about 50-55 million litres a day that the PPPRA was using for fuel subsidy payment.
NBS DATA DIFFERS FROM NNPC'S
The NBS' latest petroleum products consumption statistics is November 2016. In the publication, the agency said about 12.66 billion litres of petrol was consumed in the country between January and September of the year.
The number of days between January 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016 were 273, or eight months and 29 days. The Bureau said the figure translated to about 51.87 million litres per day.
But, the figure is higher than the petrol consumption data published by NNPC in its annual statistics bulletin on its website.
The publication showed about 17.41 billion litres, or 47.6 million litres per day of petrol was distributed in 2016.
NNPC GMD CONTROVERSY
In the wake of the recent fuel crisis in the country, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, triggered another controversy over the issue.
In March this year, during a meeting with the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, Mr Baru said under-recovery (considered by many to be a veiled name for subsidy) cost per annum by the NNPC was estimated at about N774 billion for petrol supply.
But, Mr Ughamadu, clarified to PREMIUM TIMES the figure Mr Baru gave was not "real expenditure".
He said it was a mere projection based on the price of crude oil at a certain level at the international market and the landing cost of fuel in the country.
With increasing crude oil price in the international market and a corresponding increase in petrol importation cost, Mr Ughamadu said there was a huge price differential between the regulated price at the pump and the deregulated market price in the neighbouring countries.
What this means is: With retail petrol price fixed at about N145 per litre and open market price above N171 per litre, the differential price stands at N26 per litre.
Based on a projection of about 35 million litres per day consumption, the level of under-recovery, or subsidy, will come to about N774 billion per annum.
NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru in a recent interview with State House Correspondents (Photo taken by Sani Tukur, 29/12/2017)
Mr Ughamadu said the under-recovery of N774 billion per annum was based on projections on the volume of fuel consumption per day and the price of crude oil at the international oil market.
A breakdown of the figure will come to about N64.5 billion per month, or N2.081 billion per day.
With the price differential between the open market price of N171 and the approved retail price of N145 per litre, further analysis shows an average daily consumption of about 30 million litres.
The NNPC spokesperson said in recent times petrol evacuation from depots witnessed an abnormal upsurge, from below 30 million litres per day in August 2017 to an average of over 50 million litres. He said figure later rose to a peak of about 84.2 million litres on December 8, 2017.
"The higher the price of crude oil, the higher the landing cost and the price of petroleum products at the pump in the country," he said.
Based on NNPC projections, if petroleum consumption rises to about 45 million litres per day, under-recovery cost would equally rise to about N993 billion per annum.
At 50 million litres per day, the under-recovery will grow to N1.11trillion; 55 million litres per day (N1.22 trillion); 60 million litres per day (N1.33 trillion); 65 million litres per day (N1.44trillion) and 70 million litres per day (N1.55 trillion) per annum.
NBS SURVEY UNDERWAY
A fortnight ago, Mr Kachikwu also said the under-recovery cost had risen to about N1.4 trillion per annum, an indication that the petroleum resources ministry may have based the petrol consumption level at NNPC projection of 65 million litres per day.
Although the minster later withdrew the the statement on the figures, he said the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was working with some agencies to produce an authentic figure that would soon be made public.
Mr Kachikwu may have made a veiled reference to the survey the NBS said it was currently working on in collaboration the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, NNPC, PPPRA and Petroleum Equalisation Fund to produce an authentic data on fuel consumption in the country.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu
Mr Ojo said the survey would involve household and industrial players in the economy, to provide accurate and authentic figures of fuel consumption going forward.
"Since fuel is consumed by industries and households, the survey will involve interviews with households and industry operators as well as petroleum products depot owners across the country.
"Based on the information collected during the survey, NBS will analyse and come up with a final estimate. What people are using now is just guesstimates," he said.
Mr Ojo said series of meetings have been ongoing between the NBS and the collaborating agencies to fine-tune plans for the survey, expected to be completed within a month or latest before the end of the third quarter of the year.