Headlines

February 17, 2022

BAD FUEL: Queues’ll end next week — FG

Fuel Scarcity

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Reveals how bad fuel was discovered, quarantined

Rejected 5 cargoes from the same terminal

You’re harsh on Nigerians, PDP accuses FG, APC

Residents groan as fuel scarcity worsens

By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor, Theodore Opara, Dayo Johnson & Levinus Nwabughiogu

THE Federal Government, yesterday, raised hope that the lingering fuel crisis and its attendant queues at filling stations will ultimately disappear next week.

Already, the government said that it has taken delivery of 2.1 billion litres for distribution nationwide to normalise the situation.

The government disclosed this at a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum investigating the circumstances surrounding the importation of adulterated fuel into the country.

While briefing the committee, the government explained that the situation came about as a result of the discovery of methanol in the PMS cargoes shipped to Nigeria under the subsisting commercial contract.

According to the government, the reason tests did not reveal methanol presence was because Nigeria’s specifications do not include methanol.

Specifically, it stated: “There is no way we could have known about the methanol presence. The only way we could have known about it is if our suppliers, in good faith, made the disclosure to us. In this particular instance, the discovery was made by our inspection agents, who noticed the emulsification at the filling stations and brought it to our attention. Subsequent investigation revealed that the four cargoes which are all from the same source also contained methanol-blended PMS.”

The government also stated that it then moved swiftly to trace all the affected products and quarantine the same, adding that it would cooperate with the Committee and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to get to the root of the matter.

Evacuation of bad petrol

On the evacuation of the bad product, the government stated: “We know all the trucks that leave our depots, but we do not know where they end up. This is a reality. There is no tracking mechanism to enable this. We also know that some of these products find their way in places that may not be in this country. I don’t have statistics to back this up, but I’m sure smuggling takes place.

“On the basis of those contracts, our suppliers bring products to us and reconcile with them regularly. Part of those supply arrangements is to give specifications to your suppliers. This specification is bound by regulation and the latest that we are using is the one that is in place since 2006. The current specification we have is what the subject of all our import arrangement is. So, all our partners were given that specification and on the basis of this, those imports were made.”

Why we allowed vessels to discharge product

The government said: “The cargoes that are particularly in question today met all the criteria on arrival and that’s why they were allowed to discharge into terminals and conveyed into the ship. There’s simply no way based on the current specification that you will know this petrol contained methanol.

“Let me make it clear that methanol is not contamination. It is a regular addiction to petrol. In China, up to 15 per cent of PMS contains methanol. On its own, it is not a contamination. The key issue is handling methanol. If we knew we will not accept this. Anytime methanol comes in contact with water, it emulsifies. It turns into a different chemical.”

The challenges

Commenting on the challenges, the government, stated: “We have a number of challenges. Once you evacuate products from the land, you pack it with water because of our peculiar environment. Every depot has a way of managing this water that comes into the facility. We didn’t know until our inspecting agents on January 20, 2022, to be precise called our attention to the fact that it has seen emulsification in some of the depots and this may be a cause of concern. We quarantined all the volumes wherever they are in depots and transit.”

Reps to sanction culprits

However, in his welcome address, the Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream, Mr Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya, said the investigative hearing was called by the House at plenary to identify the possible culprits, bring them to justice and forestall future occurrences.

“The essence of today’s gathering is to elucidate the current fuel scarcity which has a negative impact on the people. As we are all aware, fuel queues have recently caused gridlock in most of our major cities affecting traffic movements. Some fuel stations are locked while the few that are open have long queues of motorists waiting to buy fuel.”

Marketers, depot owners offer support

Meanwhile, members of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, have promised to work with the regulatory authorities towards the resolution of the current fuel crisis. 

In a statement,  Chairman of MOMAN,  Olumide Adeosun,  stated: “MOMAN experts are active contributors to the technical and commercial committees set up by the regulatory authorities to re-stock fuel supplies, resolve the blending of contaminated product and identify losses suffered by customers, operators and third parties.

“MOMAN’s committee of chemists are also working with designated laboratories to double-check the quality of the product (re-blended or new) before they are released into the fuels supply chain. Most importantly, MOMAN members have committed resources towards enhanced operations and associated activities to reduce the burden of the current fuel scarcity to our customers.”

  Similarly, the depots, who offered their support, said: “Member companies of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) empathise with our dear customers and the Nigerian public on the current hardships faced in the unfortunate event of the importation of some quantities of off-spec Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as “Petrol” into the country. 

Similarly, the depot owners in the country also pledged their support, saying, “We have worked assiduously with the regulatory authorities from the onset to curtail the further distribution of the off-spec fuel in all DAPPMAN depots and retail outlets.  DAPPMAN also seconded versatile professionals to the Technical and Commercial Committees set up by the regulators (NMDPRA) and stakeholders who have initiated best practices ‘Standard Operating Procedures to ensure not only that the off-spec products are quarantined professionally processed, tested and certified good for distribution to the market, but we are also working with the government.

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“DAPPMAN assures all our dear customers and the general public that all hands are on deck and DAPPMAN depots and retail outlets have commenced, within the security and safety limits allowance, extended hours of loading from our various depots and in all our retail outlets until the situation normalises. We believe with the support and co-operation of all stakeholders, including PPMC Ltd and the regulator, NMDPRA the current challenges of petrol purchase from our various retail outlets will be over.

“DAPPMAN urges the buying public to kindly desist from panic purchases as some stocks of PMS have been received by our members for distribution to our retail outlets and other registered, interested and willing retailers while much more fuel-laden vessels have continued to arrive.”

PDP slams Buhari, APC

Nevertheless, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Wednesday, accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, of pushing Nigerians, “to take to the streets in protest,” given the pain occasioned by the importation of toxic fuel in to the country, which has created a scarcity of the product nationwide.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba in a statement condemned the ruling party for failing to unmask the identity of the importers of the bad product into the country, which reportedly damaged some car engines.

The statement read: “Our party condemns the moves by APC interests to further siphon money from the national coffers by seeking to draw a staggering N201 billion under the pretext of cleaning up the poisonous fuel instead of exposing the culprits and getting them to bear the cost. 

“Is it not saddening that the APC administration has continued to turn deaf ears to the cries by Nigerians to end its corruption and treasury looting spree and ease the suffering of the people occasioned by its sleaze and manifest incompetence in governance?

“Nigerians were shocked when the news broke out over the weekend that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company is seeking an estimated N201 billion to clean up the adulterated fuel.

“It is clear that this is another ploy by officials of APC administration to continue to pilfer the national treasury to fund APC’s rigging plans ahead of the 2023 elections as well as to finance the wasteful lifestyles of its leaders at the detriment of other Nigerians.

Residents groan as fuel scarcity worsens

However, like Abuja, Lagos and other states, the residents of Ondo groaned yesterday, as the scarcity of petrol bite harder, which resulted in long queues at the various filling stations across the state.

Transporters cry out

As fuel scarcity continues to slow down economic activities across the nation, transporters have been lamenting the adverse effects on their business.

Some of the transporters who spoke to Vanguard said that besides the effects on the vehicles, the toll has been huge on the drivers, who use the time they would have devoted to rest and get ready for the next day’s trip to queue for fuel.

Mr Obi Okonkwo of Orizu Transport Company, which operates Lagos to the Eastern part of the country, said that this has not been a good period for transporters.

He said, “First it was bad fuel and now scarcity. We are hopeless as I speak to you.” Continuing, he said that they almost lost two vehicles to bad fuel if not for the quick intervention of their technicians, who flushed the bad fuel and restored the engines. He said that despite the bad fuel, the transporters have not reviewed upwards their fare.

“The good thing is that beyond Lagos, there’s fuel on the road after Ijebu-ode and we are managing the situation. Other transporters, who spoke shared Mr Okonkwo’s views that the situation is becoming quite worrisome. Most of them refused to give their names.

Vanguard News Nigeria