Okechukwu Nnodim and ’Femi Asu
As fuel queues grew shorter at some filling stations in Lagos on Tuesday, oil marketers under the aegis of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association said they did not have Premium Motor Spirit in their tanks.
DAPPMA said its members had not received petrol in their depots despite the recent announcement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that it had started offloading products in depots across the country.
Many filling stations, particularly those run by independent oil marketers in Lagos and Abuja, were closed on Tuesday, while queues of motorists and other petrol seekers persisted in front of the few stations that dispensed the product in the Federal Capital Territory and other near-by states.
The Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said in a statement, “While we cannot confirm or dispute the NNPC’s claims of having sufficient product stock, we can confirm that the products are not in our tanks and as such cannot be distributed. If the products are offshore, then surely, they cannot be considered to be available to Nigerians.”
Adewole stated that DAPPMA members were ready to undertake 24-hour loading and truck-out if petrol was provided to them by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company.
“The NNPC imports and distributes through DAPPMA, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria. Our members pay the PPMC/NNPC in advance for petroleum products, and fully paid up PMS orders that have neither been programmed nor loaded are in excess of 500,000 metric tonnes, about 800 million litres as of today, and enough to meet the nation’s needs for 19 days at a daily estimated consumption of 35 million litres,” he said.
Adewole further stated that the unending fuel crisis was due to the challenges in the Direct Sales, Direct Purchase scheme, rising price of crude in the international market and the high interest rates charged by Deposit Money Banks on loans obtained by marketers.
He said, “We all know that we presently run a fixed price regime of N145 per litre for PMS without any recourse to subsidy claims. However, we also have no control on the international price of crude oil.
“We understand that the NNPC meets this demand largely through its DSDP framework. However, due to price challenges on the DSDP platform, some participants in the scheme failed to meet their supply quota of refined petroleum products, especially PMS, to the NNPC. This is the main reason for this scarcity.”
According to him, anytime the NNPC assumes the role of sole importer, there are issues of distribution, because marketers own 80 per cent of the functional receptive facilities and retail outlets in the country.
“Sadly, some people have blamed marketers for hoarding fuel. Unfortunately, this is so far from the truth. Hoarding of fuel is regarded as an economic sabotage and we assure all Nigerians that our members are not involved in such illicit acts,” Adewole added.
According to a top official of a Lagos-based oil marketing company, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, 80 per cent of the petrol being imported by the NNPC were going to the major marketers, while the rest go to depots with which the NNPC had throughput arrangement and others.
The National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said there was improvement in loading at the NNPC depot in Ejigbo, Lagos, adding, “But the NNPC needs to collaborate with the private depots that have facilities to use and can push out the product to members of IPMAN. So, it has to sell the product to private depots it has throughput agreement with.
“We are not saying the NNPC does not have the product. But it has to get to where they can discharge it and load it to our members. You know there was no banking activity in the last four days, and our members pay before loading unlike majors that can get the product on credit. But I believe from tomorrow (Wednesday) when banks resume, there will be more payments into the NNPC system and there will be more loading.”
When contacted to react to the claim by DAPPMA that its members had no PMS in their various depots, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said, “We are verifying the authenticity of that claim because we have been supplying them with products. Even as of yesterday (Monday), we supplied products to the depots.
“However, they (DAPPMA) should complement the efforts of the NNPC. We have been supplying DAPPMA and MOMAN with products. We are replenishing their stock.”
Meanwhile, some motorists, who spoke to The PUNCH as they queued for petrol in different filling stations in Abuja, said they were fed up with government and its agencies with respect to the fuel crisis that has dragged on for about a month.
Odunayo Toyosi, a motorist who spoke at the Forte Oil filling station opposite the Trancorp Hilton, Abuja, said, “All government agencies and officials that are responsible for this untold suffering on Nigerians should be ashamed of themselves right now. They have failed woefully!”
Another motorist at the NNPC mega station on the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, Gideon Etuk, said, “We’ve never witnessed petrol scarcity that dragged like the one we are going through right now. The NNPC and other government officials who usually come out to speak on this matter should please keep quiet because they are obviously clueless right now.” (Punch)