The Federal Government said on Tuesday that the operationalisation of the Dangote and Port Harcourt refineries will help end the scarcity of aviation fuel, popularly called Jet-A1.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said this while fielding questions from journalists after President Muhammadu Buhari received Juan Carlos Salazar, secretary-general, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Sirika said the high cost and scarcity of aviation fuel in Nigeria could be linked to the ongoing Russian-Ukraine.
“Well, so we explained that the scarcity and high cost of Jet A1 in civil aviation are not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon driven by many factors. Some of them include even low capacity to refine the product,” he said.
“It’s also high demand around the world, it has increased activity and increased the number of airplanes out there and users of this jet A1. Plus also the Ukraine crisis and many more.”
Sirika added that the soaring price of crude oil was another factor that propelled the surging price of aviation fuel.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
He reiterated that, as a stopgap measure, there was an agreement in place, which allowed the airline operators of Nigeria (AON) to import the product.
In recent weeks, airline operators have complained about how the rising cost of aviation fuel impacted their business operations.
Yesterday, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) announced impending disruption of scheduled flight operations over the growing scarcity of the product.
“Then also get the necessary foreign exchange for that purpose. That will now increase more supply and perhaps drive down the cost,” Sirika added.
“And unfortunately, we’re going through this phase, but civil aviation from time to time always survives challenges. They come unfortunately, but then you see civil aviation graphs keep 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 they 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 very cheaper cost to make civil aviation transportation the preferred choice.”
The Dangote refinery is expected to commence production in the third quarter of 2022, while the Port Harcourt refinery is on course to resume operations by the first quarter of 2023.