By Ismail Auwal
As the price of crude oil in the international market rises, Nigeria may face an N3.55 trillion petrol subsidy in 2022.
Nigeria’s variant, was set at $116.40 per barrel, on Friday with the possibility of further price increases, a development that analysts predicted would increase under-recovery costs in the short-to-medium term.
Under-recovery is a term used to describe the national losses that oil companies incur as a result of the difference between the subsidised price at which oil marketing companies sell certain products such as gasoline and the price that they should have received to cover their production costs.
Analysts from Cordros Securities said over the weekend, citing recently released data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), that the upward swing in crude oil prices will increase the burden of bridging the gap between the actual cost of petrol and the subsidised rate at which the product is sold to the Nigerian public.
In its report for last week, the research company said, “We expect under-recovery costs to increase significantly over the short-to-medium term, given the rise in crude oil prices compared to the 2021FY levels. Consequently, we estimate petrol under-recovery cost to settle at N3.55 trillion (or 56.8 per cent of our estimated FGN’s retained revenue) in 2022E (vs 2021FY: N1.61 trillion or 34.3 per cent of FGN’s retained revenue).”
Relying on the NNPC’s data, the report said the corporation incurred N245.77 billion as petrol under-recovery cost in March (February: N219.79 billion). It further explained that the under-recovery cost for the review month consists of the previous months’ outstanding and part of the February 2022 value shortfall.
According to the report, ”the tally brings the total under-recovery cost in Q1-22 to N675.94 billion– 3.4x the size in Q1-21 (N197.74 billion). That said, the NNPC further estimated that it would deduct N671.88 billion from April proceeds due to be shared by the three tiers of government at the May FAAC meeting.” It, therefore, explained that the estimated deduction consists of N519.00 billion as petrol under-recovery cost in April and N152.88 billion for March.
The report noted that apart from the impact of the under-recovery activities on the economy, another cause of concern is the sustained decline in oil production in Nigeria.
According to the recently released data by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Nigeria’s crude oil production (including condensates) declined by 1.9 per cent to 1.49 million barrels per day in March (February: 1.52mb/d). Accordingly, average crude oil production (including condensates) settled at 1.56mb/d in Q1-22 (Q4-21: 1.51mb/d and Q1-21: 1.74mb/d).
The report by Cordros Securities, therefore, maintained that “the persistent low crude oil production volume reflects the pass-through impact of (1) infrastructure decay, (2) massive thefts and vandalism, and (3) divestments, given the challenging business environment amidst companies’ move to cleaner energy sources.
The report, therefore, said that the consistent low crude oil production volume suggests that the oil GDP could drag overall growth in 2022FY amidst the continued resilience of the non-oil sector.
“Overall, we do not expect a significant improvement in crude oil production over the short term, given the nature of challenges hampering production. Despite the rally in crude oil prices, we expect the government’s oil revenue performance to remain underwhelming over the short term,” the report explained.