BY UDEME CLEMENT
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says Nigeria is not about to exhaust her fuel stock. The corporation spoke in response to the claim that the nationâ€™s fuel stock would not last more than seven days.
It described the fear as misplaced and capable of causing panic buying even when the product isÂ available at different petrol stations across the country.
The spokesperson of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, Mr. Raphael Ugwu, told Sunday Vanguard that the claim that the nationâ€™s fuel stock would finish shortlyÂ was untrue. â€œNo body should listen to such rumour. Nothing can be more farther from the truth, he said.
Ugwu, who dismissedÂ the claim, warned, â€œNigerians should not rush to store fuel, which is highly inflammable in their homes to prevent needless fire incidentsÂ and loss ofÂ lives and property. We are assuring everyone that government hasÂ measures in place to ensure productâ€™s availability in the countryâ€.
However, the Western Zonal Chairman, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Tokunbo Korodo, saidÂ the nation mayÂ run out of petroleum productsÂ if the Federal Government does not step up fuel importation to ensure that theÂ products are available in the depots for the tanker drivers to lift.
Korodo told Sunday Vanguard, â€œNNPC is only importing little quantity, while lack of funds is preventing independent marketers from importing products.Â Commercial banks are not ready to give loans because of the shake-up in the sector. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) is complaining of profiteering, but, at the same time, finding it difficult to apprehend perpetratorsÂ because products are not available. Government must tell the people the truth about the scarcity of products.
â€œInitially, between 200 and 250 trucks were loading products from the depots in a day, but, now, only 20 to 30 trucks are loading daily and 80percent of theÂ filling stations in Lagos are out of stock. Government told us last December thatÂ they had enough products on the high seas, that people should not worry about scarcity. So, we askedÂ tanker drivers not to go on holidays in order to lift products, but they just wasted their time as the products never came.
The way out is for NNPC to import in largeÂ quantities, and repair the refineries to boost local production capacity of petroleum products in the countryâ€.
Sunday Vanguard findings at fuel stations in Lagos and Ogun StatesÂ revealed discrepancies in the prices of products, as most of themÂ sold above government approved pump price of N65 per litre. For instance, Total OilÂ Ishaga, Agege was selling atÂ N80Â per litre, African Petroleum (AP) along Lagos Ibadan Express Way, N100 whileÂ NNPC mega station in Abeokuta adhered to the official price ofÂ N65, but with long queues from the station premises to the road.
Also, outletsÂ inÂ Sango and Idiroko were sellingÂ between N120 and N130 per litre. Other stations inÂ Lagos, includingÂ Mobil, Conoil, Oando, Texaco,Â dispensed products, but with long queues. TheÂ station managers said the products were not sufficient to meet the demand of consumers.