Price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, otherwise known as cooking gas, has skyrocketed to a record high of N500 per kilogramme. This development has forced some Nigerians to turn to alternatives such as charcoal, kerosene and firewood.
On the back of the recent devaluation of the naira and the lingering inadequate domestic supply of the fuel, the price of cooking gas has risen by more than 60 per cent since December last year.
As cooking gas prices maintained an upward trend, more Nigerians, especially those in the rural and semi-urban areas, have been discouraged from using the fuel for cooking. It was also learnt that some Nigerians who do not have prepaid electric meters are now increasingly using electric cookers in a bid to reduce their cooking gas usage.
On Thursday, several retailers in Lagos fixed the price for refilling a 12.5kg cylinder at between N5,200 and N5,600, up from N4,000 and N4,500 in December. A retailer at Ogba refilled 3kg and 5kg cylinders for N1,500 and N2,500 respectively, translating to N500 per kg.
The National Chairman of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Retailers Branch of NUPENG, Mr Chika Umudu, attributed the price hike to the country’s high dependence on importation for LPG.
“As the dollar is appreciating against the naira, the price of LPG is increasing,” he added.
It will be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria devalued the naira as it adopted the NAFEX exchange rate of N410.25 per dollar as its official exchange rate in May.
Umudu suggested that the Nigerian LNG Limited, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of the LPG supply volumes in the country, should be supplying the domestic market in accordance to the demand, rather than having a fixed quantity per annum.
He said, “The increase in cooking gas price, which started last December, doesn’t speak well of the policy direction of the government.
“As much as I will not advocate for subsidy the way it is being done with petrol, I think there are ways the government could make cooking gas affordable to Nigerians.
“People in rural areas and semi-urban areas, who are even the major target of LPG expansion, are beginning to dump their cylinders. It is not a good development.
“Cooking gas sales have dropped by 50 per cent at my outlet in Anambra State. People are now using firewood, sawdust and charcoal.”
Umudu noted that in Lagos and some other major cities, some canteens and restaurants are now turning to charcoal and firewood because they cannot factor the hike in cooking gas appropriately into their costs.
He added that the Federal Government should work out a framework with NLNG to meet up with local demand and equally encourage other multinational companies to supply the domestic market so that we stop talking about importation of LPG.
A resident of Oworonshoki, Lagos, Mr Adeleke Adeshina, confirmed the increase in the price of cooking gas saying, “I filled my gas cylinder two months ago for N400 per kg. Last Saturday, I paid 500/kg to the man who sold it to me.”
The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Association of LPG Marketers, Mr Bassey Essien, said with 20MT of LPG being sold for over N7m, marketers were spending what they used in buying 40MT some months ago to get 20MT.
“We are not happy about the price hike,” he said, stressing the need for frequent supply of LPG by the NLNG. “It is only one vessel they (NLNG) have, and it supplies Lagos and Port Harcourt; so, the replacement cycle is longer,” he added.
Essien stated that there is a need for the domestic supply to be increased so that we can have less dependence on importation.