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Fuel scarcity : FG admits supply shortage

…releases N32bn to marketers for product importation

By Yemie Adeoye & Oscarline Onwuemenyi

LAGOS—FOLLOWING the perennial scarcity of petroleum products that is currently rocking the nation and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, incessant claims of having enough products to saturate the market, the Federal Government has finally succumbed to pressure and announced that there was a supply shortage of about 53 percent in the system.

This is coming on the heels of the release of N32 billion out of the N72 billion owed marketers by the Federal Government for products importation.

In a related development, the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has concluded plans to convene a high level forum of all the key operators in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, said during his opening remarks at the stakeholders’ forum held to resolve the lingering fuel crises at the Department of Petroleum Resources in Lagos, yesterday.

He disclosed that several problems created room for the present scarcity among which is the inability of government to pay the balance of the Petroleum Subsidy Funds (PSF) to marketers who had brought products, adding that this amongst other factors, is responsible for the marketers’ inability to access funds for import purpose.

Ajumogobia also identified the Mosimi fire outbreak which disrupted distribution of products and the rumoured deregulation date of November 1, 2009 which saw marketers hoarding products and inflating petrol price in  anticipation.

“We should ensure that this should be the last time Nigeria suffers the embarrassment of being one of the largest producers of crude oil and yet we can’t produce or provide fuel for our people, I think it’s a big shame and quite embarrassing to us as a nation.

”Let us all reach a decision that 2009\2010 would be the last time that Nigeria would suffer this embarrassment, it’s within our power to achieve that and I would like us to have a very sound discussion on the various perspectives of the problem,” he said.

Initially, it was seen as a distribution problem, and as a result of the withdrawal of services by tanker drivers.

Continuing he said, “first in Abuja where we had a limited protest then we had a problem with the Navy personnel and the tanker drivers which also resulted in withdrawal of services in Lagos.
“Now we all know the importance of Lagos to the system so that also had a huge impact in disrupting the distribution of products.

“On the infrastructure side this also coincided with the fire outbreak we had on Mosimi system 2B, and it had also resulted in a disruption of the flow, and this was compounded by the speculation that the Federal Government was going to deregulate the downstream by 1 November  2009,” he said.


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