By Udeme Akpan, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Ediri Ejoh & Obas Esiedesa.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, yesterday, adopted new measures aimed at guaranteeing adequate fuel supply across the country, by fixing N148 per litre as the price for lifting petrol at depots.
It also agreed to supply outstanding stock to independent oil marketers, to end product shortage.
This came as the independent marketers said they had been lifting the product from private depots at about N200 per litre, which made it impossible for them to meet the Department of State Services, DSS, 48-hour directive last week.
They said that the situation also led to their inability to sell petrol at the N170 per litre like their major marketers’ counterparts and NNPCL.
Vanguard, gathered yesterday, that a meeting was held between NNPCL, marketers and all the stakeholders, where the issues were resolved.
Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, who confirmed the development, said: “Our members have now been allowed to lift petrol at N148 per litre, meaning that we can now reduce our pump prices. We are committed to working with other parties to tackle the shortage across the country as quickly as possible.”
End shortage in one week — Reps
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, yesterday, called on NNPCL to end the lingering scarcity of petroleum products in the next week to ease the suffering of Nigerians.
The House also called on Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, to seek the collaboration of the Nigerian Police Force and DSS to ensure that fuel was sold at the regulated price and in all retail outlets.
The resolutions followed a motion entitled: “Urgent Need for the Government to End the Current Fuel Scarcity,” moved by Saidu Abdullahi (Niger State) under matters of urgent public importance at plenary.
Presenting the motion, Abdullahi noted that in the last few months, Nigerians have been subjected to untold hardships caused by petrol scarcity, affecting economic activities and making the already trying times in the country more difficult.
He said: “Intelligence reports on current fuel scarcity gathered by our securities agencies indicated that there is a deliberate plan by some oil marketers to derail the effort of the government in the distribution of fuel in the country by hoarding the petroleum products and thereby, creating artificial scarcity all over the country.
“While the fuel scarcity is hurting, some major marketers are currently selling fuel at government regulated price, but some independent marketers, who operate in the market have enough petroleum products and are selling at unregulated prices.
“Most of those fuel stations have resulted in selling fuel at over N300 per litre. It is observed with dismay that those who are gaining from this artificial fuel scarcity appear to be smiling home as a result of this ugly development and this has the potency to provoke innocent Nigerians against the government.”
Allocate 60% supplies to us — IPMAN
However, IPMAN Public Relations Officer, Mr. Chinedu Ukadika who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday, urged the NNPCL to allocate 60 percent of petrol imported into the country to independent marketers at official rate to end the perennial scarcity in the country.
IPMAN Public Relations Officer, Mr. Chinedu Ukadika who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday, said the wide networks of independent marketers make them the perfect outlets to ensure sustained distribution of petroleum products across the country.
While applauding the management of NNPCL for ensuring that the independent marketers had access to the product in the past few days, he noted that for supply to normalize, independent stations must be given priorities.
According to him, in the Port Harcourt zone, independent marketers were allocated 35 trucks in the past few days at official pump price of N145.60 which has led to the disappearance of queues in the filling stations.
“Here in Port Harcourt, there is no problem for independent marketers for now. We have received 35 trucks so far and we are still expecting vessels for independent marketers.
“Even though the Port Harcourt Refinery depot has been shut down, we are getting from the private depots that NNPCL is using to distribute the product. The private depots are owned by DAPMAN members. At times there are challenges because the depot owners want to load the major marketers first,” he stated.
Ukadike explained that while supply has improved it was still not enough to sustain free supply “because the independents still rely on buying from DAPMAN members at N207/210 per litre to sell at their stations.
“I still canvass that because we have the facilities, because we have the population, because we are located in the nooks and crannies of the nation, independent marketers should be given at least 60 percent of the daily allocations from the PPMC”.
He pointed out that what has transpired in the past few weeks was not actually shortage of the product but price disparity among marketers.
“What happened is a ghost queue because it was not something that was sustainable. We should have been able to get enough products for independent marketers. Now we have 35 trucks but the big question will be when are we getting allocation again?
“We may have to wait for another two weeks but this allocation will last into next week. After then what will follow? Independent marketers will have to go back to private dealers to buy at high cost.
“Now, if you go to NNPC Retail stations you will see long queues but at the independent stations you will not find any queues because they are selling at above N200 per litre while NNPC Retail is selling at N179.50 per litre.
“What we have is price disparity and if the independents have the product at government approved price we will sell at N165 per litre, cheaper than what NNPC and the major marketers are selling,” he added.
Marketers set up committee to track product delivery
Similarly, National President of IPMAN, Mr. Chinedu Okoronkwo, said the scarcity in Lagos will disappear by the end of the week as its members have been given the product at the official price by NNPCL directly.
He said: “The resolution from our meeting, yesterday, was strictly on monitoring and tracking of product delivery across the country to avert diversion from marketers.
Already compliance committees have been approved to see to this development.
“At the moment, scarcity in Abuja is off and by the end of the week, that of Lagos and other affected states would be cleared as backlogs of over 300 truck-loads of the product have been released.
“We call on marketers to desist from hoarding as we have signed an agreement with the Federal Government to ensure availability of the product at various petrol stations as well as strict monitoring of compliance by marketers across the country.”
MOMAN pledges compliance
Similarly, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, yesterday, pledged its support towards ending the shortage.
In a statement, the association, said: “MOMAN continues to work with other key stakeholders to ensure that we ramp up supplies to our retail sites and return to normalcy as soon as possible. We envisage a rise in demand during the yuletide season and are prepared to work round the clock to keep our stations running.”