By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor & Obas Esiedesa
THERE were indications, weekend, that the fuel shortage noticed in Lagos and its environs would worsen, as independent marketers said they have not been supplied for days.
An investigation by Vanguard showed that the shortage was first noticed on Saturday as some filling stations refused to sell the product on the outskirts of Lagos.
Yesterday, the scarcity spread to the metropolis, with only a few major marketers selling, while the outlets of many independent marketers remained shut.
We don’t have supplies —IPMAN
In a telephone interview with Vanguard, yesterday, National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, attributed the present scarcity to inadequate supply, explaining that his members had not been getting supplies in the past three days.
Osatuyi, who also complained about the high cost of moving petrol from one point to another, said: “We have not been getting supplies in the past three day, which explains why many independent marketers have exhausted their stocks.
“Also, it should be noted that we get the product at N163 per litre and sell to motorists and other users at between N180 and N200 per litre.
“Moreover, the high price of diesel, which currently stands at N820 per litre, has compelled us to spend as much as N500, 000 and N800, 000 to take a tanker of the product from Lagos and Ibadan respectively.”
Fuel shortage persists in Abuja
In any case, queues at petrol stations in Abuja continued over the weekend and most filling stations at the city centre and surrounding areas remained shut.
Checks by Vanguard yesterday showed that while a few major marketers had the product, most independent marketers-owned stations were closed.
At nearby Nasarawa State, stations that were opened sold at N220 per litre , above Federal Government regulated price of N165 per litre.
Marketers had last week blamed high cost of diesel for the continuing shortage in Abuja, saying it was unprofitable to bring products from coastal ports.
The National President of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association, NOGASA, Mr. Benneth Korie, said the exorbitant cost of diesel was having a huge impact on transportation of petrol.
Korie, who admitted that there was petrol at the depots in the southern parts of the country, said marketers were reluctant to bring the product up north because of the huge cost implication.
He said: “The reason for the persistent scarcity of petrol particularly in Abuja is as a result of high cost of diesel. Diesel as at today is N850 per litre in the market and the bridging being paid to transporters from the Petroleum Equalisation Fund is not enough.
“If you look at N850 and you are giving your 1,200 litres from Abuja to Lagos, when you multiply that it will cost you about N40/litre to bring the product in. If you add that to the cost of purchasing it at the depot then it becomes too high.
“If you bring at N40/litre and you buy at N155/litre that is N195/litre and you are expected to sell at N165/litre, who will do that business. The high cost of diesel is the reason for the queues and it will remain so until something is done.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited did not respond yesterday.
But the Group Managing Director, NNPC Limited, Mallam Mele Kyari, had said in a previous reaction: “We have significant product in stock and as at this evening, we have 1.79 billion litres of premium motor spirit on ground and we are continuing the 24 hours loading at the depots and selling at some selected petrol stations”.
Similarly, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, had also said: “This kind of supply disruptions are like accidents, they are not desirable and you don’t expect them to happen but they do happen once in a while. You will agree with me that this administration has done well as far as fuel supply is concerned.
“But accidents do happen and this is one of those accidents that was not foreseen but I am quite happy today to hear from the Group Managing Director and the Authority (Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority) Chief Executive all that they have been doing to ensure that this problem is under control.”