Fuel subsidy claims on Monday rose to about N268 billion, worsening the cash crunch for marketers who have now been issued supplementary imports permit for the third quarter to bring in 400, 000 tonnes of fuel.
It was gathered from a source that the cash crunch was responsible for the inability of over 17 marketers to fully fulfill the 1.5 million tonnes imports issued for the third quarter earlier this year to, at least, 37 importers.
Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Thomas Olawore, did not pick a call for inquiry on the supplementary allocation and the subsidy debt, but the source said the subsidy debt had been accumulating since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government “The subsidy is now over N268 billion and some of us were able to secure banks’ facilities to fulfill the third quarter imports obligation then based on assurance by the president that he would not stop subsidy.
“The problem now is that we are facing a major cash crunch and the truth is that all those 20 who were given supplementary permit would not be able to meet it except the subsidy is paid,” he said.
The government had earlier denied permits to 17 marketers in the additional import allocations issued for the remainder of the third quarter last Thursday.
The allocations, which enable the companies that hold them to import fuel under the country’s subsidy regime, are in addition to the 1.5 million tonnes issued for the third quarter earlier this year to at least 37 importers.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) issued the new allocations late last week, but traders said the amounts were only given to companies that had already fulfilled their previous allocations. Some of the companies that received the initial allocations have struggled to import, traders said, due to delays to subsidy payments from the government.
“Funding is still an issue, but some of these companies have strong balance sheets,” a report by Reuters quoted a trader as saying. PPPRA did not return a request for comment.
External reserves sustains downward trend, sheds $337m in 2wks
Nigeria’s external reserves fell by $337 million in the first two weeks of August, maintaining its declining trend since the middle of last month.
Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that the external reserves fell to $38.882 billion on Thursday August 11th, 2022, from $39.219 billion at the end of July 2022.
This indicates that the external reserves has lost $563 million since July 18, when it commenced the latest downward trend.
Prior to July 18, the external reserves had maintained a 40 days upward trend, rising by $976 million to $39.445 billion from $38.421 billion on June 6th, buoyed by rise in the price of crude oil, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.
However, analysts at Financial Derivatives Company Limited, FDC, attributed the declining fortunes of the reserves since July 18 to increased dollar sales by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in its bid to stabilise the exchange rate.
While projecting further decline in the external reserves, they however maintained that the increased dollar supply by the apex bank will lead to appreciation of the naira at the official and parallel market.
Making this projection in the FDC Bi-Monthly Economic Bulletin, they said: “The depletion on the reserves was majorly due to CBN’s supply of foreign exchange to stabilise the currency.
“The external reserves is expected to continue its downward trend as the CBN intensifies its efforts to stabilise the currency by supplying foreign exchange to the I & E (Investors and Exporters) window.
“Because of the country’s low oil production levels, high oil prices may have less of an impact on the country’s external reserves.
“A constant depletion of the external reserves is likely to discourage the CBN from supplying foreign exchange in the foreign exchange market. This could further stoke currency depreciation as demand outpaces supply.”
Nigeria loses N101bn worth of oil, says OPEC
Nigeria’s crude oil production plunged by 2.3 million barrels in July 2022 when compared to what the country produced in the preceding month of June, data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries showed on Thursday.
In its latest Monthly Oil Market Report for August 2022, OPEC stated that crude oil production figures based on direct communication indicated that Nigeria’s output dropped by an average of 74,000 barrels per day in July.
This implies that for the 31 days in July, the country lost about 2.3 million barrels of crude oil. The organisation further stated that the average cost of Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil, during the month under review was $105.12/barrel.
By losing 2.3 million barrels in July this year, it means Nigeria’s oil earnings fell by about $241.1m or N101.13bn (at the official exchange rate of N419.37/$) in the month under review.
Data from OPEC showed that Nigeria’s oil production in June 2022 was 1.158 million barrels per day, but this dropped to 1.084 million barrels per day in July.
The country had produced 1.024 million barrels per day in May this year, according to figures released by OPEC on Thursday.
The Federal Government, operators and experts have consistently fingered crude oil theft in the Niger Delta as the major reason for Nigeria’s poor output and its continued failure to meet the monthly oil production quota approved by OPEC.
The Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr. Muda Yusuf, blamed the challenges in the oil sector on the high level of insecurity across the country.
This, he said, had continued to discourage investors in the sector, leading to lower production of crude oil and lower earnings for Nigeria despite the increased cost of crude.
He said, “Investors in the oil and gas sector continue to lament the challenges posed by insecurity, oil theft, unstable policies and inappropriate fiscal regimes.
“The downstream sector has continued to be weighed down by the pricing regimes and the regulatory environments which have continued to dim the growth prospects in the sector.”
Meanwhile OPEC stated that crude oil prices dipped in July, as against their costs in June, adding that crude in OPEC Reference Basket fell by $9.17 or 7.8 per cent month-on-month in July to average $108.55/barrel.
“Oil futures prices remained highly volatile in July, amid a sharp drop in liquidity. The ICE Brent front month declined $12.38 or 10.5 per cent in July to average $105.12/barrel and NYMEX WTI declined by $14.96 or 13.1 per cent to average $99.38/barrel,” the global oil cartel stated.
Elon Musk says Twitter hiding key witnesses in bot battle
Elon Musk is accusing Twitter Inc. of hiding key witnesses in their legal battle over whether he must consummate a $44 billion buyout of the company, according to people familiar with the allegations.
Musk contends the social media company isn’t producing the names of employees specifically responsible for evaluating how much of Twitter’s customer base is made up of spam and robot accounts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Musk’s lawyers have asked the judge in the case to force Twitter to identify the workers so the defense can get their records and question them, the people said.
A letter asking Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick to compel Twitter to hand over the names was filed Tuesday under seal. Under the court’s rules, Twitter’s attorneys have five business days to decide what should be redacted from the filing as proprietary information.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on the filing.
Tesla Share Sale
The letter comes as the Tesla Inc. co-founder said Tuesday he is selling $6.9 billion of Tesla shares to avoid a sudden sale in the event he is forced to go ahead with the deal to acquire Twitter. That has prompted some analysts to predict the billionaire may settle the case.
So far Twitter has handed over the names of “records custodians,” who aren’t as familiar with the data at issue, the people said. Musk wants McCormick to force Twitter to come up with the names of the employees charged with monitoring those accounts, they said.
Both sides have issued a torrent of subpoenas to banks, investors and lawyers involved in the teetering transaction as they seek ammunition for an Oct. 17 trial.
“It’s another salvo in the discovery wars that are common in this kind of litigation,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in securities and merger and acquisition law. “Both sides are jockeying for position by targeting different information.”
War of the Bots
Twitter’s lawyers say they’ll need only four days in court to prove Musk is using questions about spam and bot accounts as a pretext to walk away from the deal. The company said it has turned over all its information about those accounts and that it intends to make Musk pay the $54.20 per share he originally agreed to.
Musk counters in court filings that Twitter’s handover of the that material hasn’t been robust and that the company has failed to produce evidence that spam bots account for fewer than 5% of its active users, as it has said in regulatory filings. He argues this gives him a legitimate basis for canceling the buyout.
He alleges Twitter’s disclosures show that the actual number of monetizable daily active users, or mDAU as the industry calls it, is 65 million less than the 238 million Twitter has claimed. He says Twitter also misrepresents how many of those users view advertising, the company’s main source of revenue. By his estimate, fewer than 16 million users see the majority of ads and should be counted as monetizable.
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