High Costs, Low Octane: Balancing Fuel Subsidy Removal with Quality Assurance -By Dovish Okojie

Since the removal of fuel subsidy, there has been growing concerns of petrol burning faster than ever before. This perplexing issue has provoked a chorus of complaints from motorists across the nation, who feel that they are being unfairly burdened by the increasing fuel consumption rates. Extensive Investigative research has illuminated a disconcerting trend: the quality of petrol available in the Nigerian market, particularly its low octane levels, may be the chief instigator of this dilemma. Amidst the backdrop of the government’s decision to remove fuel subsidies, which has resulted in a surge in petrol prices, the importation of subpar petrol has become a contentious concern. Let’s delve into the root cause of Nigeria’s petrol consumption quandary, elucidate the implications it bears upon its citizens, and why the government must task the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with the critical responsibility of ensuring the importation of higher-quality petrol.

The Current Dilemma: Petrol Burning Faster

Since the first batch of Petrol imported after subsidy removal, several Nigerians began to notice an alarming trend which still occurs till this moment: their vehicles’ petrol consumption had increased significantly. This sudden spike in fuel usage left many perplexed and frustrated, as it translated into higher costs for daily commutes, businesses, and essential services. The issue seemed to be pervasive, affecting a broad spectrum of society, from taxi drivers to ordinary citizens who rely on personal vehicles for their daily needs.
As complaints and concerns continued to mount regarding this issue, it became evident that something more systemic was at play and an investigative research had to be carried out to ascertain the root cause.

The Octane Factor: Understanding Petrol Quality
Investigations into the issue revealed a crucial component: the octane rating of petrol currently being sold in Nigeria. Octane is a measure of a fuel’s resistance to knocking or pinging during combustion, and it plays a pivotal role in the efficient operation of internal combustion engines. Petrol with a higher octane rating generally burns more slowly and consistently, resulting in better fuel efficiency.
A significant portion of the petrol available on the Nigerian market was found to have low octane levels. This low-quality petrol, when used in vehicles, tends to burn faster and less efficiently. As a result, drivers found themselves refueling more frequently, which, in turn, increased their overall fuel expenses. This discrepancy in petrol quality should become a focal point for both consumers and experts seeking to understand the root causes of the fuel consumption crisis.

The Implications for Nigerians

The implications of this fuel consumption problem are far-reaching and impact various aspects of Nigerian society:

Financial Burden: Nigerian citizens are experiencing a significant increase in their daily expenses due to the need for more frequent refueling. For individuals and families already grappling with economic challenges, this added financial burden is unwelcome.

Economic Impact: Businesses that rely on transportation, such as logistics companies and public transportation providers, are also feeling the pinch. Higher fuel consumption rates translate to increased operational costs, which can lead to price hikes for goods and services, further affecting the cost of living.

Environmental Concerns: The increased consumption of low-quality petrol contributes to higher emissions and pollution levels, exacerbating environmental concerns. This not only affects the health of Nigerians but also places additional pressure on the government to address environmental issues.

Productivity Loss: Frequent trips to refuel vehicles result in time wasted, reduced productivity, and inefficiency across various industries. These productivity losses have broader economic consequences.

The Role of Fuel Subsidy Removal

The Nigerian government’s decision to remove fuel subsidies was a significant policy shift. While this move was intended to reduce the financial strain on the government’s budget and create opportunities for more targeted spending, it also led to a surge in petrol prices. With the current hike in petrol prices, paying for subpar fuel is fundamentally unfair because the higher consumption rate further exacerbates the financial burden on citizens.

The Call for Government Intervention

The government should take immediate action to address the quality of petrol being imported into the country. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as the state-owned oil company responsible for managing the country’s petroleum resources, has a crucial role to play in this regard.

Quality Control: The government should task the NNPC with implementing rigorous quality control measures to ensure that imported petrol meets higher octane standards. This would not only improve fuel efficiency but also contribute to reducing emissions and environmental degradation.

Transparency: The NNPC should provide transparency regarding the sources and quality of the petrol being imported. This would allow consumers to make informed decisions and hold the corporation accountable for the quality of the fuel.

Investment in Refining Capacity: The government should invest in expanding and upgrading Nigeria’s domestic refining capacity. This would reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuel and allow for better control over the quality of the petrol produced domestically.

Consumer Education: The government, in collaboration with the NNPC, should launch educational campaigns to inform consumers about the importance of using higher-octane petrol for fuel efficiency. This would empower citizens to make better choices at the pump.

Dovish Okojie is a Management Consultant and Public Affairs Commentator. He writes from Abuja and can be reached on

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