By Hector Igbikiowubo & Yemie Adeoye
LAGOSâ€”INDICATIONS are that the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, the governmentâ€™s agency charged with superintending the downstream sector of the industry, may have turned a blind eye as petroleum marketers fleece motorists by charging outrageous prices at the pump.
Vanguardâ€™s investigations in the Lagos metropolis revealed that not a few filling stations including AP Plc, Total Plc, ChevronTexaco Plc, Rainoil Nigeria Limited andÂ Sabola Petroleum,Â among others, are retailing petrol at N100 per litre through the yuletide break.
When DPRâ€™s Director of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Agha, was contacted by one of our reporters who monitored Rainoil Filling Station on Okota Road which is retailing the product at N100 per litre, he said his department does not work on Sundays and that his men would check on Monday.
Investigations, yesterday, revealed that the station was still selling at N100 per litre and there was no reaction from DPR.
Meanwhile, government appears to have concluded plans to organise a stakeholdersâ€™ meeting to forge a way forward on the fuel crisis.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, said this, yesterday, while fielding questions from newsmen during a visit to some oil tank farms in the Apapa area of Lagos.
The minister, who was accompanied by Agha and his officials, said he had visited some filling stations and observed that the queues were reducing.
He added that he had instructed that any station found retailing petrol above N65 per litre be shut.
Specifically, Vanguardâ€™s investigation revealed that the following petrol stations are now selling conveniently at deregulated prices. They are:
The minister, who claimed he had gone round to investigate these filling stations and was unable to apprehend anyone selling above regulated prices, expressed shock when newsmen confirmed retailers were selling above regulated prices.
He, however, added that the Federal Government was ensuring to ease the products scarcity soon.
According to him, the government will also meet with banks and other financial institutions in the country to pave the way for marketers in view of their inability to access funds to import products.
Though he did not give a specific date for the total deregulation of the downstream sector, he assured Nigerians that the government would ensure its take-off soon.
NNPC distributes 18m litres
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has said it has started the distribution of 18 million litres of premium motor spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, to fuel marketers from its depot at Ore, Ondo State, to ensure adequate supply to motorists.
NNPCâ€™s Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, said this while reacting to media reports that NNPC contractors had suspended the importation of products due to debts owed them by the corporation.
Ajuonuma said NNPC has a robust stock of products that could serve the nation for the next 24 days, adding that cargo ships have been scheduled to supply the country with enough products all through the year.
He said arrangements had been concluded by the corporation to engage 250 trucks to boost the distribution of fuel to retail outlets across the country.
According to him, â€œRight now, we have 18 million litres of fuel being distributed to fuel marketers from NNPCâ€™s Ore Depot and we are not rationing supply to marketers. Ships are delivering to the various depots to ensure steady supply of petroleum products to the end-users.â€
He appealed to Major Oil Marketing Association of Nigeria, MOMA; Independent Petroleum Marketersâ€™ Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, and the Nigerian Navy, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketersâ€™ Association, DAPMA and other stakeholders in the industry to partner with NNPC to ensure effective distribution of the products across the country.
â€œI have always said that the more, the merrier, and, so the NNPC supports the active participation of all stakeholders. However, the challenge of distribution is something that cuts across the industry and so the corporation is soliciting the collaboration of all stakeholders to get products across to the end-users because distribution is internal and we must work hand-in-hand to address the situation,â€ Ajuonuma said.
He allayed the fear over the report of the drop in the number of ships waiting to discharge products at the ports from 30 to 16 weekly in the New Year, noting that the arrival of the ships have been programmed to ensure adequate supply and to avoid unnecessary exposure to demurrage.
The NNPC spokesman added that in the past the corporation was accused of creating a Petroleum Armada when it had many cargo ships waiting to berth.
He denied the allegations that NNPC contractors have suspended importation of products on account of debts owed them by the corporation.
He explained that the business of fuel importation is credit-driven and that the corporation always met its obligation to its contractors.
â€œIt is not true that our contractors have suspended importation of products on account of debts owed them. NNPC is committed to meeting its financial obligation to them. In fact, as at today arrangement is being made to pay them, and they have assured of their commitment to meet their own side of the product supply contract. So,Â there is no threat whatsoever to the supply side of the business to warrant insinuation of worse times as far as the fuel situation is concerned,â€ Ajuonuma stated.