Hope as Lagos port receives 257, 138. 679mt of PMS
• NPMC distributes 40m litres daily to filling stations
• Kachikwu unveils short, long term solutions to ending fuel scarcity
• Gov Bello warns marketers against sharp practices.
The weeks of agonising pains of fuel scarcity nationwide may afterall be over in a few days as about 257138.679 Metric Tonnes (MT) of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) is expected to arrive at the Lagos Tin Can Island Port yesterday.
Expected vessels at Lagos pilotage district obtained by The Guardian from a reliable source listed nine ships carrying PMS to include Oceana with 24000mt of PMS; Han Scholl, 31123mt; Nina, 32900mt; Champion, 23000mt; MSK Mediterranean ,37990.679mt; Armore Sea Leader, 37145mt; Malbec, 30696mt; Torm Trinity, 30000mt and Cumbria, 10282mt.
If delivered as expected, this may confirm the Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu’s statement that the lingering fuel scarcity would be over in few days.
In addition, the Nigeria Product and Marketing Company (NPMC) formerly PPMC has commenced distribution of about 40 million litres of petrol to fuel marketers in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, Abuja, and Calabar, to ensure adequate supply of petrol to motorists even as Governor Sani Bello of Niger state yesterday warned marketers against sharp practices
Kachikwu, yesterday in a video on his facebook page, revealed short and long term solutions to fuel scarcity, blamed the current situation on the unavailability of foreign exchange for private marketers to import fuel and activities of pipeline vandals.
He stated that the country experienced fuel supply gap due to the inability of the independent marketers to meet their import obligation, which he said made NNPC to assume 100 per cent responsibility.
He said: “Although NNPC has a poor profile of 10,000 barrels allocation of crude and was supposed to meet 50 per cent of the delivery, the corporation was left with no option than to assume 100 per cent import of the country’s PMS needs.
“The individual who was to bring the balance has not been bringing any product. So, we have to be very creative over the last four to five months until we basically ran out of options.’’
Kachikwu noted that the NNPC now imports 100 percent of the fuel used in the country, against the normal 45 per cent that the corporation used to import in the past.
This over reliance on the NNPC to import fuel, he said, has caused a strain as the NNPC lacks the resource, capacity and network to be the sole importer of fuel into the country.
He hinted that the activities of pipeline vandals is incurring more expense for the country and causing a difficulty in the distribution of fuel around the country.
A hopeful Kachikwu admitted the challenges of meeting the petrol need in the country. “It’s been a very difficult work, very challenging, we’re getting to the solutions, the first few cargoes are beginning to come in and I think by the second week of April like I said, we should be hopefully out of this queue situation. But that is not a long-term solution”, he added.
Dwelling on logistics challenges, the minister said: “It’s not enough just to bring in the cargoes which we are beginning to do, but if you bring the cargoes and they arrive in Lagos, if you have to send 3,000 trucks round the whole country, it takes an average of four to seven days to do that, and the very next day, you’re back to the same place.
‘‘So the sheer logistical nightmare is not what NNPC was set up to do, we need to be able to get those pipelines back, get the depots functioning, push a lot of the responsibility to the major oil companies which are basically leaving us to do all the work and picking up the profit at the end of it all.
“We are at the stage right now of looking at policies geared towards advertising our depots and our pipelines for purposes of contracting joint ventures that will bring in money, refurbish depots that have been abandoned for upwards of a decade, so that we can have the distributional network that we need to be able to solve this.”
Kachikwu said that the government has adopted a long term solution to ending the fuel crisis.
He stated: “The long term solution is that we have to throw private initiatives to the downstream. We’ve got to have a situation where we create enough policy direction, such that people can get in there and actually do the business.
“Ultimately, the business must go back to where it belongs, which is the private sector, not the public sector and until we do that deal with the issue of pricing, which our price modulation has helped us manage, but not quite completely, we’re not going to solve the problem.”
Executive Director, NPMC, Justin Ezeala in a chat with reporters on Wednesday said in order to reduce long queues at filling stations, seven cargoes of fuel have been made available for end user while one cargo per day will be supplied throughout the month pending when the scarcity subsides.
“We know this might not be the solution but in order to reduce the stress on the people right now, we have embarked on massive importation of fuel cargos.’’
He said that already arrangements have been concluded by the corporation to engage 294 trucks to boost the distribution of fuel to retail outlets across the country.
Worried by the worsening fuel crisis and its negative impact of the economic life of the state, Governor Bello visited some filling stations in Minna, the Niger State capital, following public allegations of sharp practices by the petroleum products marketers.
He personally conducted checks at Forte Oil station opposite the Central Mosque, two Total filling stations, Mobil and NNPC mega-station all within Minna metropolis where all the stations against public allegations were found without product.
When the governor put a call to the Suleja NNPC Depot manager to know the situation and was told that four trucks of fuel were allocated to Niger State on Thursday, he then warned filling station owners to ensure that products are sold to members of the public whenever they receive consignment, adding that government will not tolerate diversion or hoarding of products meant for the state .
When the The Guardian visited some filling stations along Lagos-Apapa Expressway and Lekki-Epe Road late yesterday afternoon, petrol queues spanned more than 50 metres with attendants dispensing fuel at the approved pump price of N86.50 per litre.
But at some other stations, the commodity sold for much higher prices.
While black marketers sell petrol between N200 and N300 per litre, some petrol stations were bold enough to sell the commodity for between N150 to N200 yesterday.
Filling stations in Ago Okota area of Lagos such as Sabola, Mobil, Total, Rain Oil and Petroleum Manages were locked, apparently due to no supply.