By Michael Eboh
ABUJA — The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, disclosed that a number of international oil companies, IOCs, in the upstream oil and gas sector have agreed to provide foreign exchange for oil marketing companies for the importation of premium motor spirit, also known as petrol.
Speaking during a tour of petrol stations in Abuja, Chief Operations Officer, in charge of Downstream at the NNPC, Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, also stated that before the end of April, all the refineries would resume production and begin to contribute positively to improving the fuel scarcity currently facing the country.
He identified paucity of foreign exchange (forex) as one of the major reasons for the scarcity witnessed across the country, stating that with the decision of upstream oil and gas companies to provide foreign exchange to oil marketers, there would be a significant improvement in the second quarter and beyond.
He said: “As you know, forex was one of the prime reasons we did not do well in the first quarter. Most marketers, who had allocation, could not import because they do not have forex.
“The minister has worked very closely through his initiative with the upstream oil companies. So, we have a number of them on board to support local entities, that is, downstream companies.
“They will help provide foreign exchange for them to import and meet their Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, allocations. Through the CBN, NNPC would support importation of fuel in the second quarter.
“These oil companies also would work with us, including the CBN. These combined efforts, we hope, would enable us meet a 100 per cent of import requirement for the second quarter.”
To resume local refining this month
Speaking on the refineries, Ikem-Obih stated that all the refineries were at various stages of start-up, in terms of moving them closer to their optimal yield, while he expressed optimism that within the month of April, part of the fuel purchased by Nigerians from petrol stations would be produced locally from the refineries.
He said: “Most of the work that is being done at the refineries is on site, just getting them to start up and start cracking, so that they too should start contributing to the amount of fuel we have to distribute across Nigeria.
“It is our goal to ensure that within the month of April, we will have some local refining contributing to the amount of fuel we have to distribute across the country.”
On measures being put in place to end the prolonged fuel crisis, he said the NNPC had stepped up fuel imports, while also recovering most of the pipelines to ensure a smooth distribution of the product across the country.
No plan to increase petrol price —PPPRA
Meanwhile, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, has said there was no plan to increase the official price of petrol in the country.
Acting Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Sotonye Iyoyo, who disclosed this in a statement, said the agency would retain the retail prices of N86 for the NNPC, and N86.50 for the other marketing companies.
The agency added that the pump price of Household Kerosene, HHK, would also remain unchanged from what it was in the last quarter.
“Therefore, marketers are advised to ensure that there is no price distortion in their respective retail outlets,” the PPPRA stated.
The agency said it would continue to monitor the global oil market performances and make reasonable changes consistent with the newly-adopted price modulation principles.
It appealed to depot owners to strictly adhere to the prevailing truck-out policy made by the agency, to ensure that petroleum products got to their designated retail outlets nationwide, and warned that adequate sanctions awaited any depot-owner found to be hoarding products.
On the news making the rounds that the agency was planning to increase the pump-price, it urged members of the public to ignore such rumour, as prevailing market indicators did not support such.
“PPPRA is resolutely committed to the sustenance of its reform initiatives, in order to further guarantee adequate supply of products nationwide.
“We, therefore, assure Nigerians of our total commitment to service delivery, in the quest to deliver on our mandate to the people of Nigeria,” the statement said.
The PPPRA urged motorists to desist from panic-buying, saying it was working hard with other sister-agencies to ensure that the current supply and distribution challenges were resolved within the coming days.