-Diversion, arbitrary pricing discovered
By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor & Theodore Opara
There were indications, weekend, that the prolonged petrol shortage in Lagos, Ogun and environs is worsened by illegal practices, especially arbitrary pricing and diversion, to unauthorised locations.
Checks by Vanguard showed that some independent oil marketers, who complained about the high cost of lifting the product at depots, have devised means of taking the product to wherever they can get higher returns, instead of filling stations.
Vanguard gathered that due to the shortage and the high demand for the product, some companies and other corporate users are willing to pay more, compelling diversion by some marketers.
A reliable source in Apapa, Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, said: “These are abnormal times. Independent oil marketers lift the product at about N200 per litre at the private depots. They incur additional cost of using diesel to move it to their outlets in different parts of the nation before selling the product at between N210 and N240 per litre.
“They have another option of selling it at even higher prices to companies, including transporters, which need the product to enhance their operations.”
The checks further indicated that the outlets of many independent marketers were shut yesterday, while a few that opened sold at between N220 and N240 per litre, depending on location.
Many major marketers were, however, seen selling the product at about N175 per litre, leaving long queues which extended outside their gates as most motorists preferred to wait because of the huge price differential.
A transporter, who travelled from Lagos to Abuja, said there was petrol along the routes, but noted that prices continued to rise from one state to another till he got to Abuja.
The transporter who pleaded anonymity, said he bought petrol at N250 per litre in Ogun, but refuelled at N270 and N300 per litre along the way before getting to Abuja.
On the journey from from Abuja to Lagos, he said, the product was available, while the price kept dropping from about N300 per litre to N200 per litre.
He noted that some transporters, who did not have much petrol, were disappointed because the long traffic at the Lagos-Ogun long bridge made them exhaust the product, thus exposing themselves to armed robbery and hoodlums’ attacks.
However, officials of the Nigerian Midstream, Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of midstream and downstream operations in Nigeria, were not visible to enforce compliance at the various stations visited yesterday.
The Chief Executive Officer, of NMDPRA, Engr. Farouk Ahmed, did not respond when Vanguard called for comments yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, disclosed at the weekend, that it had started working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, to improve the distribution of petrol nationwide.
The Chief Executive Officer of MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, said: “We are doing depot-to-depot check-in and check-out to enhance efficiency. We are also having logistic supply meetings with NNPCL. There is also collaboration among our members to cushion supply to various MOMAN stations.
“We arranged it in a way that any MOMAN member who does not have the product can pick from fellow members’ depot to minimise supply gaps. NNPCL had an operational meeting with MOMAN to ensure that products are effectively distributed across the country. The logistics meeting was to ensure adequate distribution of products to stations across the country.”
Reacting to the return of fuel queues across Nigeria, spokesman of Atiku-Okowa Campaign Office, Kola Ologbondiyan expressed sympathy with Nigerians, adding that Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, and the entire campaign organization felt the pains of Nigerians, who had been at the receiving end of APC’s maladministration.
He said: “The Atiku/Okowa campaign, however, assures Nigerians of realistic solutions to the perennial challenges of providing fuel for Nigerians, a product which we should have in abundance.
“Atiku is prepared to block all leakages that have encouraged mismanagement and inconsistent delivery of fuel to Nigerians. Our candidate has been consistent on the need to liberalize the oil and gas sector by allowing private investors to engage actively in that sector, while his administration will provide the enabling environment that will allow businesses thrive.
“Atiku is the only candidate that has the political will to match words with action and restore the required efficiency needed to make the oil and gas sector perform transparently and optimally.