The price of Automotive Gas Oil, also known as diesel, has risen to a high of N250 per litre, with businesses taking a beating on the back of rising energy costs.
Our correspondent observed that some filling stations in Lagos had increased the price of the product to N250 per litre, while many others sold it at between N220-N245.
Northwest Petroleum along the Oshodi-Apapa road increased the pump price of diesel to N250 per litre; AP (Ardova Plc), along Airport road, Ikeja, N248; and Oando, along Acme Road, N240.
The National Bureau of Statistics, in its AGO price report on Tuesday, said the average price paid by consumers for diesel increased by 0.22 per cent to N224.86 per litre in January 2021 from to N224.37 in December 2020.
It said states with the highest average price of diesel were Adamawa (N268.33), Zamfara (N262.78) and Kebbi (N257.50).
“States with the lowest average price of diesel were Osun (N194.60), Anambra (N195.83) and Enugu (N198.24),” the NBS added.
Crude oil price accounts for a large chunk of the final cost of petroleum products, and the deregulation of the downstream oil sector by the Federal Government means that the pump prices of the products will reflect changes in the international oil market.
The international oil benchmark, Brent crude, has risen by more than 25 per cent this year from the $51.22 per barrel at which it closed last year. It rose to $65.25 per barrel as of 6:30pm Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Diesel is mostly used by businesses to power their generators amid a lack of reliable power supply from the national grid.
The President, Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria, Mr Femi Egbesola, lamented that the recent increase in the price of diesel was taking a heavy toll on businesses, especially Small and Medium Enterprises.
“The cost of diesel and raw material is giving us a nightmare. The price of diesel has been skyrocketing in a way that creates fear in particularly manufacturers,” he told our correspondent on Tuesday.
According to him, it is difficult for businesses to factor all the increase in diesel price in their final product prices.
Egbesola said, “That is why a lot of companies are downsizing and are making sure that they only produce products that they are so sure will sell in the market.
“Many companies have reduced their product lines significantly just to be able to cope. And that is not good for us because by the time this goes on, unemployment will increase. I believe government should be able to do something about this.”
He said although the downstream petroleum sector had been deregulated, there should be checks and balances.
Egbesola said many small businesses’ savings had been eroded already because ‘we keep spending our savings to make sure we don’t close shop’.
He said, “If things continue this way, there is no way we are not going to close shop. We are still struggling with the recent increase in electricity tariff.
“Many small businesses still depend so much on diesel generators because there is no alternative power supply. It is only the big players that have the facilities to use gas. And we cannot use solar installation because it is very expensive.”
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, relies largely on importation for petrol and other refined products as its refineries have remained in a state of disrepair for many years.