Nigeria OKs Aviation Lube Imports


Nigeria has jettisoned its plan to ban the importation of aviation lubricants into the country, realizing that the country’s aviation lubricants market is too small to justify new blending plants dedicated to that sector.

The country’s aviation industry will therefore have to continue with imports from Europe as none of the 33 registered lubricants blenders in Nigeria blends aviation lubricants at the moment.

Authorities in Nigeria had tinkered with the idea of the ban as a way of saving for the country the huge foreign exchange being spent to import the lubricants as well as create more employment for Nigerians through the establishment of new blending plants for the sector. It was also conceived as a way of boosting the local content goal pursued by the Nigerian government in the oil and gas industry.

Department of Petroleum Resources official Olumide Adeleke had disclosed that the Nigerian government was planning to put a ban on the importation of aviation lubricants into the country while unfolding the plans of his agency to sanitize the lubricant industry in the country. Adeleke is head of pipelines, plants and installations of DPR, the agency which oversees operations in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.

We are challenging them [blenders] to look inward as there are some brands of lubricants we are importing into the Nigeria market, especially aviation lubricants, which can be produced locally, thereby saving the country a lot of money and creating employment for Nigerians, he had said.

However, Bode Okedairo, DPR’s manager, hydrocarbon processing plant, told Lube Report in Lagos last week that the agency had decided to jettison the plan. According to Okedairo, DPR had been told by stakeholders that the aviation lube market in the country is too small to justify the kind of new investment we are thinking of, stressing that, you cannot compare the number of planes that fly in the Nigerian airspace with that of the developed countries.

The decision to shelve the plan is good news to operators and observers of developments in that sector. They have hailed the latest decision, describing it as another good development for the industry. While agreeing that the initial plan may be a way of boosting the local content goal of the government for the oil and gas sector, industry sources contend that aviation lubricants are specialized lubricants that should be left to those who really have the expertise to produce them.

Aviation lubricants are specialized lubricants that require special attention. Though the authorities may be concerned about the need to promote local content, we should be careful on the way we go about it, engineer Obed Ekeocha told Lube Report in Lagos last week. Eckeocha is a key player in the Nigerian lubricants industry.

Whatever anybody thinks, the aviation lubricants market in Nigeria is very small, but very specialized. The government should be careful not to allow the sector to be messed up, Soji Fagbemi, a top player in the West African regional lubricants market told Lube Report. We don’t blend aviation lubricants. Whenever we have requests for supplies, we simply refer our customers to suppliers from Europe. Fagbemi also stressed that safety concerns in the aviation industry should be paramount in whatever decision is being taken on the matter.

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