BY KUNLE KALEJAYE

Sharp practices in the downstream sector of the  Nigerian  petroleum industry have continued  to have a heavy toll on end users as many  fillings stations selling Premium Motor Spirit also known as  petrol  in the country have resorted to under-dispensing of the product.

The  nefarious activity perpetrated by petroleum marketers has gone unnoticed by many motorists  as they drive into the filling stations to  fill their tanks.

For every ten liters sold to a motorist, it is not unlikely that he drives  away with less than seven litres due to the adjusted meters by the filling stations. The implication is that the petroleum marketer gains  additional three  liters.

File photo: Long queue at a  petrol filling station
File photo: Long queue at a petrol filling station

According to findings, petroleum marketers make about N4 per litre on  a  truck  load of 33,000 liters as they buy around N93 per liter (depot price plus transportation cost)  to bring the cost of purchase to N3.069.000. When sold at the regulated price of N97 per liter,  actual profit will amount to N132, 000.

But to hike  their  profit margin, investigations revealed that the  marketers adjust their fuel pump meters. For instance, ten liters of fuel will cost N970 at the rate of N97 per liter. But with the adjusted meter, motorists  pay the actual price (N970) but drives  away  with  about six   liters which amounts to N582. So there is a difference of N388 which has fraudulently gone to the purse of oil marketers.

To magnify the  marketers smooth operation, multiply N388 by the average of  10 million under-dispensed litres out of the  30 million litres of petrol  consumed daily in the country and what you get is N3.8 billion loss to motorists.

Nigeria’s petroleum regulator, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR,saddled with the responsibility of regulating, monitoring  and enforcing the  laws in the sector, used the Seraphin Can to expose  filling stations  involved in the nefarious act in Lagos recently.

The ten-liter Seraphin Can is used by the  DPR to ascertain the exact dispensing meter measurement of filling stations. When filled to the level of ten liters, dispensing meters  that have  been adjusted will show above ten liters on the display board. When this occurs, the filling station is shut  by DPR officials.

DPR said over 500 filling stations had  been shut  for under-dispensing and other related offences.

According to the regulatory body, other offences committed by filling stations include compromise of safety standards and lack of proper storage facilities.

The DPR Manager, Downstream, Lagos Zone, Mr. Kunle Soyebo, said the purpose of the recent monitoring which yielded the filling stations under-dispensing  was to ensure strict adherence to rules and regulations in the downstream sector.

“The exercise, which you have just witnessed, is carried out by our men twice every week. Any filling station operator that fails to comply with rules and regulation will have his licence revoked,” Soyebo said.

“For the affected stations, we have issued them letters to report to our office and,  if they fail to show up, their licences will be revoked. So far, we have been able to shut over 500 filling stations across the country. These stations will remain shut until they comply with our rules and regulations.”

During the exercise, it was,  however, discovered that there are some good guys in the business who adhere to the rules on the dispensing of petroleum products. Major oil marketers were not found wanting as they maintained  a clean sheet in their operations while their names were engraved in the good books  of the DPR.

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