The controls labored for over 10 years. However, for the reason that begin of April, there have been intermittent gas shortages within the nation. Job Omagwa has studied oil advertising and worth controls in Kenya. We requested him to unpack the present gas scarcity.
How does Kenya get its gas?
Kenya, like most of its East African neighbours, will depend on imported refined petroleum merchandise (petrol, diesel, jet gas and kerosene) primarily from the Center East. Oil advertising firms are the importers. The state estimates demand for the following import cycle and points an open tender for the availability of petrol, diesel and kerosene.
Official information present that in 2021 the nation imported 6.149 million litres of refined petroleum price $3.48bn. The imports got here primarily from the UAE ($1.41bn) and Saudi Arabia ($1.14bn). Different sources included India, the Netherlands and Kuwait.
The tender is just open to the nation’s 93 oil advertising firms. The winner orders the merchandise, which it shops and distributes through the community of the state-owned Kenya Pipeline Firm to different entrepreneurs, in accordance with demand quotas.
The established entrepreneurs would not have a national attain. Smaller gamers have cropped as much as fill that hole. These small retailers get their gas from the established oil entrepreneurs.
How are the oil costs set?
Kenya has an oligopolistic petroleum market construction. A number of huge companies are capable of affect costs. In Kenya, about 4 entrepreneurs can affect costs.
The federal government carried out a most worth cap in 2011. It did this as a result of entrepreneurs had raised the value of gas in response to will increase in worldwide crude oil costs between 2007 and 2008, however didn’t reverse them when worldwide costs fell on the finish of 2008.
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The worth cap is managed by the Power and Petroleum Regulatory Authority. It units most pump costs each 14th day of the month for varied cities and cities in Kenya. The regulatory worth takes care of the worldwide crude oil value, trade charge, transport, storage and the marketer’s margin.
However the precise retail costs are set by particular person companies primarily based on their distinctive circumstances. These can not exceed the regulator’s caps.
What’s the stabilisation fund and the way does it work?
The stabilisation fund was envisaged in Kenya’s worth management coverage, proper from the beginning, as a mechanism for cushioning the economic system when world crude costs skyrocketed. The fund turned operational in 2021. It’s meant to cushion customers from unpredictable swings in world oil costs.
Specifically, the fund was to stay operational so long as worldwide crude oil costs rose above $50 per barrel. By early 2021, worldwide crude oil costs had risen to $55 per barrel. From every litre of petrol and diesel bought by oil advertising companies, KSh5.40 would go in the direction of the stabilisation fund.
With out the fund, the forces of demand and provide would push retail costs past the regulatory caps, making the enterprise untenable for oil entrepreneurs. In its absence, a litre of petrol at present retailing at KSh142 in Nairobi would, as an example, be going for about KSh173.
Compensation from the fund to grease advertising companies relies on a sure share of their respective gas prices. Because the fund turned absolutely operational in April 2021, the federal government has paid oil entrepreneurs a complete of KSh49.164bn.
Why the gas scarcity now?
The shortages had been initially attributed by the Power and Petroleum Regulatory Authority to hoarding by the oil market firms in anticipation of upper worldwide costs. It is because the established entrepreneurs had stopped supplying gas to small retailers within the countryside, prompting customers to crowd close by cities.
However the authorities later accused the 4 main oil entrepreneurs of financial sabotage. There have additionally been claims by the petroleum ministry that the 4 huge oil entrepreneurs exported a few of their inventory to neighbouring international locations.
Nonetheless, the issue is that the stabilisation fund had not paid oil entrepreneurs for a while. By early April, the federal government had accrued KSh13bn in unpaid gas subsidies.
Regardless of the approval of the discharge of KSh34.44bn by President Uhuru Kenyatta to replenish the gas stabilisation fund, the specter of one other nationwide scarcity looms massive as worldwide costs proceed to rise.
Oil advertising companies have usually skilled stockouts because of a major mismatch between demand (largely pushed by panic shopping for) and provide. It might equally take a couple of extra days to get their subsequent provide, therefore dry pumps for some days.
As well as, these companies wouldn’t exceed their allocation of inventory by the federal government regardless of elevated demand for gas. This might additionally clarify why their pumps would run dry for some days.
How does Kenya forestall a future disaster?
In my opinion, the federal government can forestall future shortages by:
- Compensating oil advertising companies (out of the stabilisation fund) on time to keep away from settlement in arrears, which is believed to have compelled a lot of the oil advertising companies to export a lot of their oil provide to the worldwide market, the place they’d be paid money upfront.
- Rising the capability of the state-owned Nationwide Oil Company to retailer way more in gas reserves. Such a reserve would stabilise provide within the occasion the non-public oil advertising companies have interaction in hoarding or decide to export their inventory to the worldwide market.
- Scrapping the stabilisation fund, which, although authorized, is just not entrenched within the Kenya Power Act 2019 or the Petroleum Act 2019. This might imply larger pump costs however provide is likely to be way more assured.
Job Omagwa, Lecturer – finance and accounting, Kenyatta College
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