Monday, January 16, 2012

Nigeria slashes fuel prices over strike

Motorists queue for fuel at a filling station, Lagos, Nigeria, January 14, 2012

Source: Press TV

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a decrease in fuel prices in a bid to end a nationwide strike heading into a second week.

President Jonathan said that the government decided to reduce petrol prices by 30 percent to 97 naira (about 60 US cents) per liter “after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly.”

"[The] government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector," he said in a televised address on Monday.

Jonathan made the remarks after the latest round of talks between the government and trade unions ended with no sign of a compromise over the removal of fuel subsidies.

On January 1, the government hiked petrol prices to more than double from 65 naira (40 cents) per liter to about 150 naira (92 cents).

The decision sparked nationwide strikes and protests that paralyzed the oil-rich country since January 9. The strikes also cost the economy billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The unions on Sunday vowed in a statement to continue the strikes and protests if the government did not reverse its decision on the subsidies.

The unions had demanded the government to restore an estimated USD 8 billion a year in fuel subsidies, but the government only promised to slightly lower the prices.

Nigeria produces over 2 million barrels of crude per day and is a key supplier to the US, Europe, and Asia.

The developments come as concerns over Nigerian oil supplies have pushed up global oil prices.

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