Nigeria has not increased gasoline pump prices, its fuel regulator said on Friday, after sparking confusion at fuel stations and a public backlash by apparently flagging a big rise was on the cards.
“There is no price increase. The current (gasoline) price is being maintained while consultations are being concluded,” the Petroleum Products Pricing Agency (PPPRA) said in a statement.
On Thursday, the regulator posted an online notice listing the “guiding price” for “ex-depot”, or wholesale, gasoline at 206.42 naira per litre – well above the previous pump prices of around 167 naira.
After local media reported the post, some consumers flocked to fuel stations, prompting a sharp rise in prices at some, and others to stop selling amid the confusion.
In Lagos, at least two stations were charging 248 naira per litre, compared with 167 naira on Thursday.
Nigeria is struggling to balance a promise to eliminate costly fuel subsidies with public anger over more expensive fuel.
Oil prices have risen about 25% since the beginning of February, but state oil company NNPC vowed prices would not increase in March, meaning that it could be losing millions daily on gasoline imports.
Following the public backlash – and statements from NNPC, the petroleum minister and a presidential spokesman that higher prices were not approved – PPPRA removed its post about the guidance for ex-depot prices.
NNPC is currently the only gasoline importer due to the state-controlled ex-depot price that is keeping levels artificially low. It has said it is consulting with unions to agree a formula that allows gasoline prices to float, but still protects consumers.
In mid February, fuel marketers estimated gasoline was costing NNPC some 1.2 billion naira ($3.2 million) per day, a huge risk to government finances. Eliminating subsidies was among conditions for a $1.5 billion World Bank budget support loan.