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FG allows indigenous refiners to purchase crude oil in naira

New Policy Aims to Alleviate Foreign Exchange Pressures and Sustain Domestic Refining Operations

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In a significant policy shift, the Federal Government has acceded to the demands of domestic crude oil refiners and other stakeholders in the sector by granting indigenous refineries the option to purchase crude oil in either naira or dollars. This landmark decision, announced on Monday by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), signals a concerted effort to address pressing challenges facing the domestic refining industry while bolstering the nation’s energy security.

The unveiling of the new template for Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation underscores the government’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for the sustainable growth of the refining sector. Chief Executive of NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, emphasized the collaborative efforts involving key stakeholders, including representatives from NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services and industry associations, in developing the framework for seamless implementation.

Responding to inquiries regarding the currency of transaction, Komolafe clarified that transactions could be conducted in either naira or dollars, with a preference for naira transactions to alleviate pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserves. This strategic move aligns with broader objectives outlined in the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, aimed at promoting indigenous participation and enhancing the resilience of the nation’s energy infrastructure.

The decision comes in the wake of mounting challenges faced by modular refineries, as highlighted in a report by The PUNCH on February 26, 2024. The inability of these refineries to access foreign exchange for crude oil purchases had threatened their operations, exacerbating concerns about supply disruptions and fuel scarcity. Operators, under the aegis of the Crude Oil Refinery Owners Association of Nigeria, had called for urgent intervention, citing the need for crude oil to be sold in naira to ease operational constraints and stimulate investment in the sector.

The announcement also coincided with the release of updated data on Nigeria’s crude oil and gas reserves, underscoring the nation’s vast hydrocarbon potential. As of January 1, 2024, total crude oil and condensate reserves increased to 37.5 billion barrels, with a corresponding gas reserve of 209.26 trillion cubic feet. These figures represent positive gross additions to oil and gas reserves, reaffirming Nigeria’s position as a key player in the global energy landscape.

Despite these promising developments, challenges persist in optimizing the utilization of these resources and enhancing domestic refining capacity. The government’s proactive measures, including the adoption of flexible pricing mechanisms and regulatory reforms, are essential steps toward overcoming these hurdles and fostering a vibrant and sustainable energy sector.

As Nigeria navigates the complexities of its energy transition journey, the prudent management of its hydrocarbon wealth and the promotion of inclusive policies will be critical in ensuring the long-term prosperity and energy security of the nation. The decision to allow indigenous refiners to purchase crude oil in local currency marks a significant milestone in this trajectory, signaling a renewed commitment to unlocking the full potential of the country’s oil and gas sector for the benefit of its citizens.

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