By CLARA NWACHUKWU
For a short while, many Nigerians had some reprieve with the availability and price of kerosene with the advent of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Capital Oil and Gas Industries Kero Direct, programme.
Hitherto, not only was the product very scarce leading to high levels of trees felling, price also shot to the roof, selling for as high as between N150 and N250 per litre depending on the outlet and location.
However, the reprieve is now short-lived, as scarcity is gradually creeping back and with price rising again, which many households see as an omen in view of the forthcoming Yuletides.
Sweetcrude learnt that this is because the NNPC/Capital Oil Kero Direct, which was a huge success while it was on, may have been hijacked by industry cabals, who also wanted a piece of the pie.
At the peak of the kerosene scarcity, the Federal Government had ordered the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, to crash the price of kerosene and also make the product available to Nigerians who depend on it for most o their energy needs.
The ministry with the assistance of the NNPC Retail Limited, in conjunction with Capital Oil, a major downstream player reputed to have the single largest private depot and storage facility in sub-Sahara Africa, devised the direct sales to households.
Through the support of the various local government councils in each state where it was launched, Nigerians were able to buy kerosene at the government approved price of N50/litre. The project kicked off in July, as a pilot scheme to address the lingering kerosene scarcity across the country.
Under the scheme, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a subsidiary of the NNPC provided the product to be sold to end users through the use of Capital Oil ultra modern dispensing trucks.
The direct sales scheme, which commenced in Lagos, was extended to other states including Anambra, Kaduna, Imo and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and was billed to go round the country until the cabals came in.
it was gathered that some cabals within the NNPC, who were not happy that the scheme was not kept within the fold began to frustrate the project, and caused the stoppage of supply to Capital Oil depots for onward sales to the public, thereby truncating the scheme.
However, the Managing Director of Capital oil, Mr. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah, could not be reached to speak on the issue, as a senior management official in his company confirmed to Sweetcrude that he was away on studies abroad.
He said, “My MD (Ubah) is on course abroad, he will soon be back to the country to answer your questions; I am not competent to speak on it.”
It would be recalled that Ubah said he had acquired seven large barges and five tug boats, to ensure the success of the schemes. “Capital Oil has been very concerned about the difficulty in getting kerosene for domestic use. It is in response to this that the company came up with this innovation of deploying mobile filling stations with standard dispensing pumps to deliver kerosene at official price of N50 per litre to Nigerians. The scheme will afford our people greater access to the product with a view to reducing the use of charcoal and fire woods, which are hazardous to health.”
Furthermore, at the launch of the programme, the NNPC had promised to provide the product to all Nigerians across the country. NNPC’s spokesman, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma had said: “Our determination to arrest this artificial challenge in the distribution of kerosene to Nigerians is total. What we are doing here today is to guarantee that the product gets to the end user at the right time and correct price of N50 per litre.”