Nigeria said on Tuesday it had released fuel from its reserves to ease a crippling shortage that has caused long queues of vehicles at petrol stations across the country.
Omar Farouk Ibrahim, spokesman for the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said 33 million litres of petrol were released to the Lagos area on Monday.
“We are going to release another 33 million litres today (Tuesday),” he told AFP.
The NNPC said that 40 million litres of fuel are consumed every day across Nigeria and that tankers were heading to the country from overseas to bring fresh supplies.
“We hope to put this ugly situation behind us before the end of the week,” he said.
The petrol shortage intensified over the weekend in most cities, creating long queues at filling stations and leading outlets to raise the price of fuel by at least 50 percent.
watch the video of the effect of the shortage here: Commuters were also left stranded at bus stops and forced to walk as public transport operators raised the price of journeys to offset fuel cost increases.
Petrol marketers and tanker drivers blamed the scarcity on a delay in the approval of fuel import permits by the NNPC and warned that the situation could take weeks to resolve.
They called on the company, accused recently by the former central bank governor of defrauding $20 billion in oil revenue, to make petrol reserves available.
Ibrahim said the extra volume was being made available to cut queues at petrol stations and that the NNPC was concerned about the effect of the scarcity on homes and businesses.
“The NNPC has enough stocks to meet demand. Nigerians should have no fear at all. They should not indulge in panic buying and petrol stations should also desist from hoarding.”
The firm blamed the shortage on petrol dealers hoarding the product in anticipation of a planned hike in the official price of petrol and
Anyone caught profiteering would be prosecuted, he added.
“We do not know where they got their information on price increase from. (The) government has no intention to hike the pump price from 97 naira (58 cents, 42 euro cents) per litre,” he said.
Nigeria is forced to import fuel because of inefficiencies and mismanagement of its oil refineries