Fading hopes, as Nigerians yearn for improved fuel supply

Fuel queues along Herbert Macaulay Way, Central Area, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja recently PHOTO: LADIDI LUCY ELUKPO.

Fuel queues along Herbert Macaulay Way, Central Area, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja recently PHOTO: LADIDI LUCY ELUKPO.

The situation appeared to be worsening as at yesterday, with the unsavoury pangs of fuel scarcity, several filling stations being shut and queues are becoming longer at the few filling stations dispensing fuel.

Nigerians have continued to cry out to the Federal Government for urgent intervention, but hopes seem to be fading away.

The Minister of States for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had last week promised that the queues would vanish this week, but the indications showed that the promise might be a mirage, as many depots remained dry.

The NNPC said: “The fuel scarcity re-surfaced in some of the major cities of the country, and local refining capacity has remained below commercial threshold due to prolonged Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) issues, pipeline vandalism and products losses. In the same vein, forex deficiency for products importation has also not helped the set goal of the corporation,”

The NNPC, in a report recently said it has also supported Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to facilitate procurement of forex to major private importers to enable steady product supply.

Meanwhile, there are optimism that the release of the second quarter import allocation by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) would bring respite, although, this may not come until after two weeks.

Some marketers, who spoke with The Guardian, believed that the agency had done the right thing by increasing the participation of the private sector, to entrench robust fuel supply regime.

In the first quarter, the regulator handed 78 per cent of the allocation to NNPC and 22 per cent to major and independent fuel marketers. But the second quarter import programme showed with NNPC handling 41.7 per cent and private marketers 58.3 per cent.

The PPPRA spokesman Lanre Oladele, said: “The new allocation ratio followed extensive deliberations by all stakeholders and in particular, the commitment the government received from the marketers” , adding that the decision to give a greater percentage of the allocation to private companies was to allow NNPC focus on the key task of building domestic fuel reserves.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of Forte Oil Plc and Chairman of Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Akin Akinfemiwa, has however assured the Nigerian public of efficient supply of products after the Federal Government had provided sufficient second quarter allocations for the importation of petroleum products.

Akinfemiwa said that the allocations have been evenly divided between the NNPC and the petroleum marketers, hence all hands will be on deck to wet the country with fuel.

According to him, The Federal Government, NNPC and the major marketers have put in place a structure to ensure the effective distribution of these allocations to the retail outlets and as a result, PMS has become readily available.

“In order for the populace to reap the benefit of our joint efforts, we advise the public to refrain from panic buying and we assure the buying public that we shall continue to work hand in hand with the NNPC and the Federal Government to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies all year round,” he said.

The NNPC however, said there was need to carry out a holistic reform of the refineries in order to put the assets back on track of profitability, adding that a 90 days programme is currently ongoing to reassess/resuscitate the refineries.

According to NNPC statistics, the corporation had supplied over 1 billion litres of petroleum products across its 559 retail outlets across the country in the month of February 2016, yet the scarcity lingers.

Meanwhile, analysts believed that the situation would persist until the Federal Government took a bold step of bolstering the national refining capacity, which presently stood at 445,000 barrels per day.

The NNPC has said about nine companies have bided for the new co-location refineries initiative that are expected to increase the capacity to 650,000bpd, but stakeholders said there was need for government to promote private refineries and encourage them to operate in a competitive market.

The Group Managing Director, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, Anthony Iheanacho, who unveiled his company’s 20,000 bpd capacity modular refinery in Lagos, said appealed to Federal Government to support indigenous oil companies which are striving to grow the oil and gas sector, adding that government should also support local companies with funding.

“We are in absolute support of growing indigenous capacity in every facet of our oil and gas industry.

“This is because the local companies are paying their taxes, reinvesting their capital and creating enormous job opportunities for the larger community,” he said.

He stressed that with such encouragement, indigenous private sector participation in the industry would rise significantly in line with government’s aspirations with the Nigerian Content Act.

The National Secretary of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alh. Danladi Pasali said that IPMAN will set up teams to monitor products distribution and deliveries at all their outlets nationwide even as he assured that all their members will get their products at official ex-depot price so that they can sell at government approved price to Nigerians.

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