Economy

Caution as fuel queues reduce in Lagos, Ibadan

Written by Maritime First

…FG orders marketers on 24-hour petrol supply loading***

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has promised to flood depots with petrol but the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) said the corporation was yet  to send petrol to its members’ depots.

The scarcity subsided yesterday in Lagos and Ibadan, with more filling stations selling petrol at the officials N145 per litre.

In Abuja, NNPC was battling hoarders, shutting down filling stations.

The situation was critical in Kaduna, Ilorin and many other cities.

DAPPMA’s Executive Secretary Olufemi Adewole, in a statement in Lagos, urged the NNPC to help the association so as to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians.

“Our members’ depots are empty. However, if the PPMC/NNPC can provide us with petrol, we are ready to do 24-hour loading to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians and for the fuel queues to be totally eliminated.

“We, petroleum products marketers, do empathise with all Nigerians who are going through difficulties at this time by spending hours on fuel queues because of the current fuel scarcity due to no fault of theirs.

”DAPPMA members import about 65 per cent of the nation’s total fuel consumption, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) imports about 15 per cent and PPMC/NNPC import the balance of 20 per cent.

“However, this scenario changed drastically due to several challenges faced by marketers.’’

The DAPPMA official claimed that its members paid PPMC/NNPC in advance for petroleum products.

He said fully paid-up petrol orders, which have neither been programmed nor loaded, exceeded 500,000MT (about 800,000,000 litres).

“As at today, there is enough petrol to meet the nation’s needs for 19 days at a daily estimated consumption of 35,000,000 litres. Sadly, some people have blamed marketers for hoarding products. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

”Hoarding is regarded as economic sabotage and we assure all Nigerians that our members are not involved in such illicit act.

“While all kinds of allegations have been made in the media, it is important to set the records straight, as Nigerians first and as responsible business men and women who employ Nigerians.

”As it stands today, NNPC has been the sole importer of PMS into the country since October,’’ Adewole said.

He said the current import price of petrol is about N170 per litre, with NNPC, which absorbs the subsidy on behalf of the Federal Government, as the importer of last resort.

”The international price of petrol went up during the period of Hurricane Katrina and it has not dropped below USD$600/MT since then.”

Adewole said the exchange rate of the dollar to the Naira is N306 for petrol imports and the interest rate banks charge is above 25 per cent.

”Landing cost of PMS in Nigeria is above N145 per litre, which means any of our members that import will have to resort to subsidy claims, a policy already jettisoned by the government.

”It is on record that any time NNPC assumes the role of sole importer; there are issues of distribution, because it is marketers who own 80 per cent of the functional receptive facilities and retail outlets in Nigeria.

”While we cannot confirm or dispute NNPC’s claim of having sufficient product stock, we can confirm that the products are not in our tanks and, as such, cannot be distributed.

”If the products are offshore, then surely it cannot be considered to be available to Nigerians,’’ he said.

An oil and gas merchant, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho has attributed the persistent scarcity of petrol to NNPC’s monopoly.

Iheanacho, a former Minister of Interior in the Goodluck Jonathan administration, who is the Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd., told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos yesterday that inability of the NNPC to create a window for private importers to import petrol also contributed to the scarcity.

He said the shortage was caused by the landing cost margin of N171 per litre and the selling cost pegged at N 145 per litre.

”The selling of the product at N145 per litre is no longer feasible with the current exchange rate.

”Shortage of foreign exchange and increase in crude prices have made it unprofitable to import petrol and sell same at N145 per litre.

”The problem is that importation of petrol is being handled, almost 100 per cent, by NNPC, while private importers backed out because the increase in crude price has made the landing cost high,’’ he said.

Iheanacho said the marketers’ huge debts of over N800 billion had also contributed to the inability to import petrol.

He said most independent marketers had closed their companies due to inability to pay their workers. Iheanacho urged the Federal Government to settle all the outstanding debts owed marketers since 2015.

Loading of petrol has begun in Apapa, Lagos.

Hundreds of trucks were on queue yesterday, waiting to load petrol at Total, Forte Oil, Oando Plc, MRS, NIPCO and other private depots.

In the city, long queues of motorists persist in many filling stations in the metropolis.

In Ikorodu, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Oshodi, Ajegunle, Ikotun, Bariga and Sango-Ota, some stations were selling petrol for between N180 and N200 per litre.

In Ikorodu many filling stations were selling at N200 per litre. Only a few were selling at the official N145 per litre.

Commercial buses increased their fares by more than 100 per cent, claiming that they bought petrol above the official price.

A NAN report said that the fare from Ikorodu Garage to CMS increased from N300 to N350 before the scarcity to N1000.

From Epe to Ketu, passengers were being charged N1, 500 as against N700 they were paying before the scarcity. The fare from Ketu to Costain was between N300 and N500.

In the meantime, the Federal Government has ordered depot operators to engage on 24-hour loading of petrol, in a bid to ease the long queues and scarcity witnessed across the country.

This came as major marketers said they were ramping up imports and product supply to complement the efforts of the NNPC. The directive was given during a visit by Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, managing director NNPC Retail, Yemi Adetunji, to Oando OVH, Mobil and Total terminals in Apapa, Lagos on December 25. CEO of OVH Energy, Oando’s downstream licensee, Olaposi Williams, said they were ramping up petrol imports delivering upwards of 150 trucks everyday across Nigeria.

According to her, “We currently have a vessel that is waiting to discharge petrol but there were no officials from the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR and Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, to clear the product.”

The same sentiments were expressed by Ernest Umunah, of Total Nigeria Terminals, who attributed disruptions at the terminals and absent of imports from Independent marketers in the industry.

He also requested incentives granted to marketers to enable it ramp up supply. Speaking to journalists after the inspection tour, Osinbajo assured the President has instructed that everything be done to ensure that current supply gaps are plugged to reduce the sufferings of Nigerians whose holidays have been marred by fuel scarcity.

“Just going by what we have seen, there is what is called winter deliveries, obviously towards the end of the year, the cost of fuel goes up in the parts of the world where it is refined and that gives rise to problems for those importing it. Of course once you have any kind of disruption immediately you begin to see hoarding and panic buying.

“We are also trying to ensure that this sort of disruption don’t happen in the future, that’s why we are working to ensure that this is solved,” said Osinbajo. Some of the tanker drivers who spoke complained that the security agencies such as the Navy and the Soldiers who have been tasked to manage the chaotic access to Apapa are contributing to the problem.

The drivers said that the major marketers all have dedicated parking spaces for their tankers but the Navy and Soldiers who are controlling access to the ports insist that they stay on queues with the rest of the trucks bearing empty containers heading to wharf. However, they lamented the excessive exploitation going on at the depots, saying “The deception is very high during inspection.

We are asked to pay additional N10,000 and above to get the product at the terminals before buying the product.” Recall that the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, had couple of days ago told journalists that measures were already in place to bolster the current fuel supply and eliminate the extraneous factors that have led to the persistent petrol queues.

He said within the last two weeks the national truck out capacity had been jerked up to an average of 1,500 trucks, translating to 52 million litres per day which is much higher than the normal consumption of 850 trucks per day across the various depots in the country.

The corporation also said it has emplaced a 24-hour loading and sales operations in all depots and NNPC Mega Stations across the country while marketers have been instructed to do same. Baru said 814 million litres of petrol were currently being injected into the system to guarantee nationwide elimination of fuel queues before the end of the year.

Nation with additional report from Vanguard

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Maritime First