To forestall further swindling of customers, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, said it will from next week, seal any depot located anywhere in the country found selling petroleum products above the prescribed ex-depot prices to marketers.
The Operations Controller, DPR Lagos Zonal Office, Mr. Gbenga Koku, who made the declaration yesterday in Lagos, at the annual general meeting of DPR and petroleum products depot owners, said the development was necessary in order to curb the profiteering habits of some depot owners.
He noted that at ex-depot price of N87.90k and 43.70k for Premium Motors Spirit, PMS or petrol, and Household Kerosene, HHK or kerosene respectively, there are already reasonable margins built into the cost for the depot owners by the Federal Government.
He said, “It is unacceptable that in pursuit of excessive profits some marketers are arbitrarily distorting this price regime. Clearly, this practice negates the Federal government’s efforts to provide these products to the Nigerian public at affordable prices.”
While urging all depot owners to partner with the Federal government in order to reduce the sufferings of Nigerians, Koku promised that the DPR will double efforts to monitor compliance with the pricing regime and ensure that perpetrators of profiteering are brought to book.
Koku also informed that the agency will kick off the renewal of depot licences next week as part of the efforts to streamline the process, while also creating a platform to effectively capture data of trucks used in conveying petroleum products from the depots.
“In the near future, we intend to release guidelines for registration of such trucks and a timeline for implementation,” he said, adding that the agency will continue to monitor the quality and quantity of products being loaded from the depots to ensure that it met specifications.
According to him, “We intend to embark on regular sampling of products from depots storage tanks to ensure that unwholesome products are not allowed to get into the distribution chain. We also urge all operators to ensure that only third party laboratories are engaged when recertifying imported products. These tests must also be witnessed by DPR representatives and signed off by competent personnel in the laboratory.”
Stressing on health, safety and environment issues, the Director, DPR, Mr. Osten Olorunsola, noted that although there has been no operational fatality in Lagos area, however, “the use of unsafe equipment in depot facilities can result to total loss of investment and lives.”
Accordingly, he reiterated that all depot modifications or changes relating to physical structures or functions must be approved by the industry regulator. “DPR should be informed and involved s the process of modification goes along and at each milestone.” He added that the directive also covered tankage expansion, as it had become the practice among depot operators to expand tankage capacity irrespective of the attendant HSE issues.
Like the zonal controller, the director, spoke on a number of other issues including renewal of licences, operational issues, products transportation, quality assurance and a host of others.