fuel subsidy

•NMDPRA absent at filling stations

By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor, LAGOS

Despite the government’s promises, the prolonged petrol shortage, characterised by long queues, continued yesterday in Abuja, Lagos and other cities.

A visit to some depots in Lagos showed that there were commercial stocks of the products, but operators said distribution was hindered by the long holiday.

According to the depot owners, the smooth operation of the value chain was, to some extent, disrupted as key officials, especially tanker drivers, shut down to enable them to travel for this year’s Eid-el-Kabir festival.

It also showed that a few major marketers which had the product, sold at the N165 per litre regulated price, while those without it simply shut their gates against motorists and other buyers.

On the other hand, many independent marketers, who did not have petrol shut their stations while a few that had the product sold at higher prices, ranging from N200 to N300 per litre, depending on location.

However, consumers, who complained about poor power supply and used jerrycans to buy for their generators, were compelled to pay additional N100 –N500, depending on the size of the cans.

The presence of officials of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, who have the responsibility to maintain sanity were not noticed at the filling stations.

Commenting on the development, the National Operation Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr Mike Osatuyi, said: “We can confirm that there is adequate petrol. But distribution has been a major challenge as tanker drivers travel for the holiday. We are optimistic that there would be improved once the holiday is over.”

Similarly, the President of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria, NOGASA, Mr. Benneth Korie, who made a strong case for the establishment of Energy Bank, had said it would enable marketers to fund their transactions.

Specifically, he had said: “We urge the National Assembly to enact a bill for the establishment of Energy Bank for easy transactions in petroleum products in the oil and gas sector.

“The bank will become the place marketers can go for assistance like we have in other sectors like agriculture and industries. There is nothing wrong if we can have that for the energy sector”.

Korie who reiterated his call for the Federal Government to sell dollars to diesel importers at the official exchange rate, had explained that high cost of diesel was at the heart of Nigeria’s exchange rate.

He had said: “The emergency dollar allocation would help more depot owners to import diesel for five months so that we can bring the price of diesel down. There is no diesel at the depots because the owners had to source foreign exchange at the black marketers which is very expensive.”

Also speaking to Vanguard, the National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Debo Ahmed, had said given the high cost of diesel the government needs to accelerate the pace at which bridging claims are paid.

He had said: “Without electricity, we use diesel in all our operations, from moving the trucks from the depots to the stations and for operating the pumps to sell to customers.

“Diesel is currently N800 per litre, it used to be N300 per litre, and you cannot compare both scenarios. We are finding it very difficult to operate and that is why many stations are closed and the scarcity will continue until the government addresses these issues”, he stated.

Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadiri, had said: “In the long run, it will result in an enormous increase in the prices of other manufacturing inputs like wheat, maize, fertilizers and the raw materials.

”By the time the current domestic reserve of manufacturing inputs is exhausted, in the face of acute shortfall in supply, we are afraid that the prices of manufactured products will soar. ”Ironically, the Nigerian economy is completely dependent on the importation of refined petroleum products including diesel and other vital manufacturing raw materials and there are currently no sufficient alternatives.”

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