More pains as fuel scarcity returns

DESPITE repeated assurances from state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that is has more than enough petrol to meet consumers’ demand; the long queues are back at the filling stations.

Many of the stations ran out of stock over the weekend, leaving the few that have the product to dispense at prices above the approved N145 per litre.

The scarcity worsened in Lagos on Sunday, a day the NNPC claimed it rolled in 250 trucks of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to Lagos in a move to ensure product’s availability.

The fuel scarcity, which returned at the turn of last year, has been blamed on number of reasons including, panic buying; hoarding; sabotage and diversion of products to neighbouring countries by unpatriotic marketers.

Though critical holders in the fuel distribution chain resolved at the end of their series of meeting in Abuja during the Yuletide to keep the pump price at N145 per litre, only few filling stations belonging to the Major Oil Marketers’ Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) dispense at the regulated price.

Other stations have not only been hoarding the product to make the scarcity bite harder, they sell at odd hours to escape the hammers of officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), who have been moving around to ensure that consumers are not cheated by the distributors.

Hundreds of filling stations have been sanctioned by the DPR for offences ranging from under-dispensing of product, hoarding and to selling above the approved pump price.

The fuel supply problem was aggravated by the withdrawal of members of MOMAN and Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers’ Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) from product importation.

DAPPMAN’s chairman Prince Dapo Abiodun said the NNPC became the sole importer of product since October last year, when such venture became unprofitable for independent marketers.

Besides, the DAPPMAN chief shed more light on the possibility of smuggling the product out to neigbouring countries where a litre sells for the equivalent of $1 as against N145 in Nigeria. The local exchange rate in is N365/$1.

But the agencies of government are unrelenting in their efforts to ensure steady supply of the all-important product.

22,000 plastic containers

of smuggled petrol seized

For instance, the Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service seized 22,000 plastic containers of smuggled petrol. The  Duty Paid Value (DPV) of the products seized in Pashi Yekeme community, Owode, Badagry, was put at N10 million.

Command’s spokesperson Selchang Taupyen said in a statement credited to the Area Controller, Mr. Mohammed Aliyu,  that no arrests were made because the suspects fled on sighting law enforcers.

According to him, the products were seized by officers of the anti-bunkering unit while they were being smuggled through the creeks.

The statement reads: “Our operational norm doesn’t allow trucks and tankers of petroleum products to cross the Nigeria’s territory, either through the Seme main border or its Owode Apa outstation.

“The Owode Apa station is synonymous to every approved border post and it’s manned by all government security agencies.

“Trucks are strictly monitored and documents are properly cross-checked to ensure that they are discharged to the approved filling station.

“Officers of the anti-bunkering unit are on ground to ensure that smuggled products through illegal routes are apprehended and seized.”

He advised the public to desist from smuggling and embrace legitimate trade.

“We are well equipped to tackle smuggling and we advise the public to desist from such illegal act or be ready to face the law” he said.

Ondo governor enforces

N145 per litre

In Ondo State, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu paid surprise visits to some petrol stations in Akure, the state capital to ensure strict compliance with the government directive that fuel dealers should sell product at N145 per litre.

Accompanied by members of the Task Force on Petroleum, headed by his Senior Special Assistance (SSA) on Special Duties, Dr Doyin Odebowale, the governor expressed displeasure that many filling stations were dispensing fuel at between N190 and N200 per litre.

He ordered the erring filling stations to immediately revert to the official price, threatening to impose sanctions against any fuel dealers who indulge in over-pricing, hoarding and diversion.

IPMAN seeks understanding

Members of the Ondo State chapter of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) are calling for mutual understanding between the marketers and the government for the benefits of the citizenry.

Speaking with reporters after meeting with the government in Akure, to find a truce on the nationwide scarcity, the IPMAN Chairman at Ore Depot, Shina Amoo, said the marketers were ready to ensure product availability.

The IPMAN chairman, who is also in charge of operation in Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and parts of Edo and Kogi states, explained the efforts being made by the marketer to make products available at the regulated price.

He, however, lamented that the inadequate allocation of fuel to the state had hindered their efforts, noting that a situation where only nine trucks were allocated from Mosinmi Depot at Sagamu, and only one from Ibadan per day, cannot be enough.

The association urged the state government to prevail on the NNPC to increase daily allocation of trucks to the state to ease the lingering shortage.

Some IPMAN members in the state were recently detained over alleged hoarding and sales of fuel above the official pump price.

The development led to the suspension of sales of fuel to motorists and other users in the state since last Wednesday, thereby crippling commercial activities in the Sunshine State.

Bayelsa residents carpet DPR

Residents of Bayelsa State at the weekend lashed out the DPR officials in their domain for failing to protect them from alleged sharp practices of independent petroleum marketers.

The aggrieved residents called on the Federal Government to review the composition of the DPR in the state and to probe its relationship with owners of private filling stations in the state.

They wondered why Bayelsa was still buying a litre of fuel at outrageous amount per litre when the price of the product had stabilised in other states.

Investigations revealed that all private filling stations in the state still sold fuel above the regulated price of N145 per litre.

Most of them sold the product between N210 to N250 per litre against the N145 display on their meters.

Desperate motorists besiege the NNPC Mega Station owned by in Yenagoa, where the product was sold at regulated price. They endured the long queue. Others, who could not cope with the agonising queue, patronise private stations with complaints and bickering.

One of the residents, who identified himself as Moses, said the Bayelsa DPR was incompetent. He accused its officials of conniving with marketers to rip off the people.

He said: “What is the essence off the DPR in the state. I don’t think it exists. Or if it does, it means its officials are in an unholy alliance with these marketers. We hear reports of filling stations sealed in other states for selling above the pump price, but here in Bayelsa, we hardly hear of DPR activities.

“When you go to private stations, you will see the meter set at N145 per litre, but it is just deceit because they sell above N200 and use calculator to determine the price.”

But the DPR said it has never abandoned its responsibility and warned that it will sanction any marketer selling above the approved pump price or under-dispense product.

It said that that the depot price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) remained N133 per litre.

The Controller in the State, Mrs. Ejiro Ufondu, said enforcement officials are on the field to ensure that customers and users are not shortchanged by greedy marketers.

Mrs. Ufondu said the DPR had been going out on a daily basis to ensure that marketers did not cut corners but sell the product at the government’s stipulated price of N145 per litre.

900,000 MT of illegally refined fuel destroyed

in seven months

The Central Naval Command (CNC) of the Nigerian Navy said it has destroyed more than 900,000 metric tonnes of illegally refined petroleum products and crude oil in the last seven months.

The outgoing Flag Officer Commanding the CNC, Rear Admiral Abubakar Al-Hassan, made the  disclosed yesterday at the passing-out parade organised for him by the command at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta base in Warri.

He also said that more than 712 illegal refining camps were destroyed within the period in review.

Rear Admiral Al-Hassan, who has been replaced by Rear Admiral Saleh Usman as FOC, noted that the command, under his watch, recorded landmarks because of the commitment and devotion of officers and men towards ensuring that the charge of the Chief of Naval Staff, to keep the maritime space across the country safe, was effectively carried out.

He said: “Over 100 wooden boats and power driven boats engaged in illegalities in the creeks were either seized or destroyed. Parts of these successes were attained through patrols at sea and within the backwaters, as well as the conduct of exercises and operations such as OCTOPUSGRIP.

“The Command also recorded over 25,000 hours of boat patrols within the creeks and waterways between July and Jan. 18,   2018.”

The Naval chief noted that the nation’s economic centre of gravity fell within the operational domains of the Nigerian Navy (NN), thus making the outfit a vital driver, guidance and enabler of the nation’s economic aspiration.

“In realisation of this, Navy has maintained constant presence and have deployed enough ships to ensure criminal activities in the maritime domain are stopped,” he said.

NNPC set to build more depots

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday vowed to build more depots across the country.

Speaking at the inauguration of the board of one of its downstream Companies – NNPC Retail limited- the Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the addition to the corporation’s existing 23 depots nationwide would ease products supply and distribution.

Baru, who charged members of the board to expand the company’s market share from 13 to 30 per cent, said building more depots by the corporation was more feasible than acquiring dormant ones.

In a statement,  the corporation’s spokesman, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, lauded the NNPC Retail for its strong intervention to wet the market at a time when other downstream players were playing underhand games to create artificial scarcity.

The GMD tasked the board to aggressively see to the expansion of the NNPC Retail beyond the shores of the land.

“By mid-2019, you should be having plans to go into the sub-region, this board should propel NNPC Retail into a new height,’’ Baru said.

On diversification and backward integration, the GMD directed the company to venture into lubricants production, marine and industrial services to boost its revenue profile as it was in line with our quest as an integrated oil company.

Responding, Chairman of the board and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gas & Power, Saidu Mohammed, said as an NNPC-owned company, the watchword for NNPC Retail should be “efficiency and profitability, especially in a downstream system like ours that is highly competitive.”

He pledged the commitment of the board and management to the attainment of the goals of the corporation.

Managing Director of the Company, Mr. Yemi Adetunji, expressed delight that the GMD had reinforced the vision of the company to expand beyond the shores of Nigeria, adding that the targets were achievable especially with the support of the board and management of the company.

Other members of the board include: Engineer Henry Ikem Obih, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Downstream, as alternate Chairman; COO, Refineries, Engr. Anibo Kragha; GGM, Shipping, Hajia Aisha Ahmadu Katagun;  Mr. Yemi Adetunji and some other senior officials.

Mrs. Obioma Agbambo, Company Secretary and Legal Adviser, NNPC Retail, will serve as Secretary to the board.