Life in Nigeria as a Dress Rehearsal for Hell, by Osmund Agbo
All of this, combined with widespread insecurity, banditry and terrorism, has exacerbated an already precarious situation in a country that has recently replaced India as the world’s poverty capital. Nigeria has long been punching well under its weight, but this government’s last eight years have been nothing short of a train wreck. 2023 can’t come soon enough. However, no one is under the illusion of a post-2023 super president who will slow ocean rise or heal the planet.
As Russian tanks pound Ukrainian cities, Western countries are tightening the noose around the Kremlin’s neck. The aim is to send a clear message: Russia has embarked on a suicide mission and must therefore retrace its steps.
After the United States and its European NATO allies announced plans to avoid Russia’s crude oil, the global oil market faces one of its greatest turbulences since the 1970s. Rising energy prices are hitting hard everywhere, forcing many of the world’s citizens to make difficult choices. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when the world is still grappling with the supply chain crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sanctions were severe and far-reaching, prompting international banks, shippers and insurance companies to treat Russia like a pariah state. Big oil companies like Exxon Mobil, BP and others are shutting down all major operations in Russia, and shippers are concerned their tankers are stuck in the Black Sea and may not be allowed to ship supplies already bought.
In comment after meeting with American oil producers during this year’s annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo offered little to allay the fears of millions around the world threatened by the Increase are affected in energy prices. He stated unequivocally that there is no capacity in the world to replace Russian production.
Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia accounted for one in ten barrels of oil consumed worldwide. With an average daily production of about 11 million barrels per day, Russia is one of the top three crude oil producers in the world, right behind the US and Saudi Arabia. About five million bpd of their production is exported.
There have been a few other times when crises have caused comparable disruptions to global energy supplies. The 1990-92 Persian Gulf war removed about 4.3 million barrels a day from the world market and the Iranian revolution of 1978 removed nearly 5.6 million barrels a day. But even before the Russian invasion, oil prices had already risen sharply, largely due to increased demand as the global economy began to recover from the COVID-19 shutdowns. A large part of the problem was that at the height of the pandemic, a number of international oil companies had scaled back investments in the oil and gas sectors in a number of countries and laid off many of their employees.
In a bold move to reduce its energy dependency, the UK has announced a plan to wean itself off Russian oil and has set out an aggressive phasing-out agenda. The plan is to double the use of renewable energy, and other European nations are gearing up for similar measures.
…today Nigeria processes almost no crude oil and therefore imports most of the products it consumes, often cutting off supplies with every crisis, even in far flung places like Ukraine. The nation has zero reserves to absorb even the most inconsequential shock.
The US, on the other hand, is far less dependent on foreign energy supplies. Since America pioneered hydraulic fracturing in the 1950s, the United States has become a major exporter of crude oil. This is a process in which fluid is injected at high pressure into fine-grained rock called the shale. This forces existing cracks in the rock to open up so that oil and gas can be extracted from them.
There are shale fields scattered across the US, and American producers have increased production over the past decade. However, the cost and complexity of producing shale oil makes it less than ideal as an alternative to producing from conventional oil wells. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas released from fracking, also continues to raise environmental concerns, making it a very contentious political issue.
With almost 12 million barrels of oil per day, America covers about 60 percent of its national needs and has to import the rest. However, in November 2019, the United States became an overall net exporter of all oil products, including refined petroleum products and crude oil, becoming the world’s top crude oil producer by 2021.
But how is Africa, and in particular Nigeria, an OPEC member and Africa’s largest crude oil producer, doing in all of this? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Despite the activities of pipeline vandals, illegal miners (involved in bunkering) and the constant unrest in the Niger Delta, the country is still Africa’s largest crude oil producer and a key member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). But today Nigeria hardly refines crude oil and therefore imports most of the products it consumes, often cutting off supplies every time there is a crisis, even in far flung places like Ukraine. The nation has zero reserves to absorb even the most inconsequential shock.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has four refineries, two at Port Harcourt (PHRC), one at Kaduna (KRPC) and another at Warri (WRPC), with a total installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day (bpd). For the past 15 to 20 years, refineries have had a miserable operating record, with average capacity utilization fluctuating between 15 and 25 percent per year. Even if the refineries were operating at full capacity, they still could not meet Nigeria’s total demand for petroleum products, which one study put at about 750,000 barrels per day.
The Nigerian airline industry is experiencing one of the biggest hiccups in its operations with the recent energy crisis. The price of Jet A1, also known as aviation fuel, has risen from 190N per liter before the current crisis to 670N per liter now. In addition, the product is largely unavailable, leading to many flight delays and cancellations across the country, leaving many travelers stranded in the country’s airports. Airlines had also claimed that some marketers were hoarding the commodity, so they required operating permits from the federal government to begin importing the fuel themselves.
the sunday watchman published an article entitled “133 Highways of Terror” in June 2019. It was an explosive piece that made us realize the extent to which the reign of terror on Nigeria’s highways has become commonplace. The investigation identified as many as 133 highways in Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones that have become major hotspots for banditry, kidnapping and other related vices.
Given recent air travel problems, the alternative would have been to travel by road instead. But most Nigerian highways are now considered too dangerous and driving on them is tantamount to signing a death warrant.
In February 2020, no fewer than 30 people were killed, including a pregnant woman and a baby, after suspected Boko Haram terrorists set sleeping travelers on fire in the village of Auno in Borno state, about 20 kilometers from the capital Maiduguri. By the time they were done, a total of 18 vehicles had burned, including trucks loaded with food and other goods to be sold in the city’s markets the next day.
This was just one in a series of horror stories that have made road trips in North East Nigeria a very scary experience. These days, however, it’s not just about the North East, it has become a suicide squad to take cross country road trips anywhere in Nigeria.
the sunday watchman published an article entitled “133 Highways of Terror” in June 2019. It was an explosive piece that made us realize the extent to which the reign of terror on Nigeria’s highways has become commonplace. The investigation identified as many as 133 highways in Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones that have become major hotspots for banditry, kidnapping and other related vices. Hardly a week goes by without dozens of Nigerians falling into the hands of murderous shepherds, armed robbers, kidnappers or ritualists on these streets.
All of this, combined with widespread insecurity, banditry and terrorism, has exacerbated an already precarious situation in a country that has recently replaced India as the world’s poverty capital. Nigeria has long been punching well under its weight, but this government’s last eight years have been nothing short of a train wreck. 2023 can’t come soon enough. However, no one is under the illusion of a post-2023 super president who will slow ocean rise or heal the planet. Saving this nation from further bleeding is seen as a good start.
However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon in the country’s energy sector. According to Bloomberg news, the Dangote refinery in the Lekki Free Zone is set to be completed soon at a cost of $19 billion. It is scheduled to begin crude oil processing in 2022 and will process approximately 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day. This refinery will not only meet Nigeria’s needs for gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel, but a third of its production will also be available for export.
Until then, Nigerians would continue to endure whatever Hell has to offer.
Osmund Agbo, a public affairs analyst, is the coordinator of the African Center for Transparency and organizer of the Save Nigeria project. Email: [email protected]
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