From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed hope that Dangote Refinery, when fully operational, as well as the fixing of Port Harcourt Refinery will end the perennial scarcity of aviation fuel (JET A1) in the country.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, stated this while fielding questions from State House Correspondents, after he led Secretary General of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Mr Juan Carlos Salazar, and his delegation to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
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The minister, who reiterated that the high cost and scarcity of Jet A1 in Nigeria is linked to the high demand for crude oil, and the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war, said Nigeria not refining crude was also contributing to the crisis.
In the past few weeks, domestic airlines have complained about the spike in the price of aviation fuel and have threatened to withdraw their services.
Speaking on plans to address the Jet A1 scarcity, Sirika said: “Well, we explained that the scarcity and high cost of Jet A1 in civil aviation is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon driven by many factors. Some of them include even low capacity to refine the product.
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“It’s also in high demand around the world; it has increased activity and increased the number of airplanes out there and users of this jet A1. Plus the Ukraine crisis and many more. It’s a time when crude itself is so expensive. Today, it is in the hundreds of dollars per barrel and not only the high cost of Jet A1 product in Nigeria. Also, the peculiarity of the fact that we’re not refining the product, so to speak.
“I did address the press a couple of days ago, saying that, by the grace of God, perhaps, once the Dangote refinery is online or if the government fixes the Port Harcourt refinery, which is now ongoing, we will begin to refine this product and sell it. And, as a stopgap measure, there’s an agreement that the airline operators of Nigeria would nominate either from out of themselves or from other major oil marketers to be given the opportunity to import this product. Then, also, get the necessary foreign exchange for that purpose. That will now increase more supply and, perhaps, drive down the cost.
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“So, this is not unique to Nigeria. And, unfortunately, we’re going through this phase, but civil aviation from time to time always survives challenges. They come, but then you see the civil aviation graph keeps going up.
“We hope that this is a temporary thing around the world and we hope that Jet A1 will be very available everywhere and at a very good price. And we hope in the future, we will learn to do away with all these carbon emitters and have much more cleaner energy, which will be more readily available for everybody at a much cheaper cost to make civil aviation transportation the preferred choice.”