Several Nigerian states, including Lagos, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Delta, and Kaduna, are currently experiencing a severe shortage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), commonly known as cooking gas. This scarcity has taken a toll on consumers’ wallets, leading to a significant surge in gas prices.
The issue emerged towards the end of last month, catching households and businesses that rely on cooking gas for their daily needs by surprise. An investigation by The Newsmen reveals that this problem is widespread and has profound implications for the lives of Nigerians.
The spike in cooking gas prices is particularly alarming. According to Newsmen’s report, gas terminal owners dared to raise prices by a staggering 66 percent in October alone. To put this in perspective, the cost of 20 metric tons of cooking gas skyrocketed from an initial N10 million at the beginning of the month to a staggering N16 million by late October. These price increases occurred despite Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) supplying 20 metric tons of cooking gas to terminal owners at N9 million. Unfortunately, the burden of these price hikes has trickled down to consumers, creating a significant financial burden.
Market surveys conducted over the weekend highlight the grim reality consumers face. A 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas now commands an astonishing price range of between N13,500 and N14,000 on the black market. This black-market surge is due to the inability of gas plant owners to access an adequate quantity of cooking gas at reasonable rates.
To worsen the situation, these prices have spiraled out of control compared to just a few months ago. In June, a 12.5kg cylinder could be obtained for approximately N8,700. By September, that price had already risen to N10,200. As of the latest report, consumers are now grappling with the grim reality of shelling out between N13,500 and N14,000 for the same cylinder.
Gas plant owners, facing their financial constraints, have shared their concerns. In discussions with Newsmen, these plant owners revealed that they are forced to purchase a kilogram of cooking gas at costs ranging from N1,100 to N1,200. This substantial increase in acquisition costs has left them with no choice but to pass on the additional expenses to their customers.
Oladapo Olatunbosun, President of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, urged consumers to be cautious about who they patronize during these challenging times. In his own gas plant, he sells at N950 per kilogram and highlighted the role of middlemen who further inflate the prices. Olatunbosun stressed that these intermediaries contribute to the growing problem of gas scarcity in the country.
The cooking gas scarcity is not limited to Lagos alone. Our correspondent in Katsina also reported a dwindling supply of cooking gas in the state. Small retailers began complaining about the non-availability of the commodity about two weeks ago. Investigations have revealed that a kilogram of cooking gas is now being traded for nothing less than N1,400, a stark contrast to previous prices. Despite the evident hardship faced by consumers, no official reason has been provided for this scarcity.
In Sokoto State metropolis, a similar pattern has emerged over the last few days, with the shortage leading to indiscriminate price increases. Our correspondent in Kaduna reported residents carrying their cylinders in search of cooking gas on a Sunday, as the commodity grew scarce. The retail price for a 5-kilogram cylinder in Kaduna now stands at a whopping N5,500.
The resurgence of the cooking gas scarcity in neighboring Kano state has also created a sense of urgency among residents. Panic buying has become the norm as consumers attempt to secure their gas supplies amidst the growing uncertainty.
As these states grapple with the dire consequences of the cooking gas scarcity, many Nigerians are hoping for swift solutions to alleviate their financial burdens and provide much-needed relief to their households. The exact causes of this crisis remain unclear, leaving consumers and businesses anxiously awaiting answers.