Almost a month after the scarcity of fuel, the country was thrown into an energy crisis, indications revealed yesterday, that the situation may go from bad to worse, as prices at the pump increased to over N300 per litre in some fueling stations across the country, especially those owned by private marketers.
Although the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had stated in Abuja that 2.3 billion litres of additional premium motor spirit were being procured into the country to complement existing one billion litres as part of measures to resolve fuel scarcity, it was learnt that most marketers, especially depot owners who had paid for products since December last year, were yet to receive the consignment.
While the queues seemed to have reduced last week, the situation became worse on Friday, as many petrol stations remained closed, while those that opened and sold at the official price, had long queues of drivers waiting to buy the product.
In Lagos, most of the stations managed by independent marketers that were without queues sold fuel between N200 and N250 per litre.
Amid the disruption in the distribution system, consumers are disturbed about the lack of supervision and silence on the part of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) in monitoring the excesses of some of the marketers that had fuel but selling above the agreed pump price.
Multiple sources across the value chain affirmed, yesterday, that the current strategy being deployed by the state oil firm in an attempt to recover cost after being transformed into a limited liability company may further damage the prevailing situation.
Although the NNPC was expected to send out products to most stations in the city centers managed by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), most depot owners instead of selling to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) now prefer selling their products at their stations in other to recover losses from bank loans and new difficulties that include, payment for products in dollars, which they said they have to source at the black market.
A source, who is a top member of Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPMAN), who pleaded to remain anonymous, said though the national oil company was trying its best to resolve the situation, truths are far from claims being made in the media.
Remember that a new N500,000 Ship-to-Ship Coordination Charge for each transhipment operation for petrol has allegedly been introduced by NNPC, the source disclosed that most of the depot owners now have to pay for their goods in dollars and have borrowed money since December to pay for products but are yet to load products three months after.
A memo from NNPC Limited with Ref. NNPC/ML/STS01, dated February 18, 2022, and sent to all marketers with the heading, “Payment Of STS Coordination Charge” signed by O.I O Ajilo on behalf of GGM Shipping, reads, “Please be informed that the NNPC Management has directed that effective 10th February 2022, the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Naira, (N500,000.00) only will be charged for STS Coordination fee for each transhipment operation involving NNPC Marine Logistics.”
It was also gathered that while the marketers, including NNPC Limited, obliged to blend existing dirty fuel in the country, which was noticed around January 11 this year, the depots seem to have enough products to effectively blend the dirty products.
“Most depot owners that have paid for products since December have not loaded. Usually, we have only 30 days to pay back loans to the bank; we now have to pay interest of above 60 days extra. Who will bear this cost? They are telling us to bear the cost and not increase the cost of the products. Aside from that, we were paying in naira for the NNPC vessels we have been using. When we pay, they load the products and send them to our depots; now we pay in dollars. That dollar is sourced at the black market. Who pays the difference between the official and the black market rates? In addition to that, we now incur costs for a ship-to-ship charge,” he said.
He summoned the NNPC to distribute products across its depot to enable IPMAN members to get products and sell at the pump price of N165.
In most parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, black marketers are seen selling a litre of fuel for N400, just as long queues remain as most spend at least five hours to get products.
While Nigeria is hosting global leaders in the oil and gas sector in Abuja from today, a view through most windows at the NNPC Tower, even from the Petroleum Minister’s waiting room reveals the horrific queues at the Conoil and Total stations situated in front of the towers.
For more than a month now, it has taken the interventions of the Police and Army to ensure orderliness on the roads as the dual road that links the Wuse area of the FCT to the Central Business District through the NNPC tower is now one way due to petrol queues.
Only a few fuel stations were selling both in the city center and its outskirts. The few that were selling at the actual pump price had very long queues.
While the price was dispensed at N165 per litre in the city, most stations on the way towards the other parts of the northern region were dispensing above N300 per litre.
On the Kubwa expressway and some parts of the city, especially Jabi, Wuyi, Wuse, Central Business District, Garki and others, few fillings were selling under heavy queues.
On the airport road, Shema filling was without fuel. NIPCO was selling under a long queue. Dan oil was locked. Oando was selling on the Kubwa expressway with long queues as well as MRS. Most of the A.Y Shafa stations along the route had no product.
Although Abubakar Shettima, the Vice President of IPMAN, did not quickly respond to the request of journalists, yesterday, sources at the association informed Newsmen that most members could not maintain the N165 pump price, stressing that it is now difficult to get fuel.
Recall that the Bayelsa State government had ordered all fuel stations in the state not to sell their product above N230 per litre although the national price is N165 per litre. In Benin, Conoil along the airport road was selling at N200 yesterday, while the NNPC along Sapele road near Protea Hotel had long queues but was selling at the agreed price.
In Lokoja, the price remained high and even worse across small cities in the state. For instance, Olobo Global Oil, along the old Egume road in Anyigba under Dekina local government was selling at N230 per litre.
Bewailing the situation, Managing Partner, The Chancery Associates, Emeka Okwuosa, stated that it remained disheartening that the queues persist.
According to him, the development remained an implication that the country lacked proactive and qualified regulators in the oil and gas industry.
“NNPC is really lagging behind in its jobs. Because of a couple of odd toxic supplies in the system, we are back to queues. NNPC needs to adopt a more robust approach. I am shocked that up to date people that imported the toxic supplies have not been sanctioned.
“We must sanction them to act as a deterrent and ensure it does not happen again. What this also shows is that we don’t have emergency supplies in storage to take care of situations like this,” he said.
Okwuosa said that the Federal Government is more interested in paying humongous subsidies than in ensuring supplies of our fuel needs.
The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industries Mine and Agriculture (NACCIMA), during the weekend, challenged the Federal Government and other stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the persisting fuel queues.
NACCIMA implored the Federal Government to end the importation of petroleum products and take immediate steps at ensuring that all refineries are working in full capacity for a definitive end to the importation of petroleum products.