Petrol scarcity persists in cities

  • Marketers sell at cut-throat prices
  • NMDPRA fails to regulate retailers

Petrol – the all-important product that oils the wheel of the economy and aids the movement of commuters and goods – remained scarce across the country yesterday.

The situation which started in parts of the country almost three weeks ago, sneaked into Lagos on Sunday, the commercial hub, and has since become crippling.

There were allegations that major marketers and retailers deliberately hoard the product to dispense to end-users at cut-throat prices and make more profit.

Many filling stations had adjusted the pump prices to N700 and N800 per litre in Lagos and its environs.

In Abuja, retailers sell at between N690 and N800. Some sell at higher prices.

With filling stations adjusting their metres to such amount in Lagos and Abuja, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), the body with the responsibility to regulate the industry, is nowhere to be found.

Repeated attempts by The Nation correspondents to speak with officials of the agency headed by Farouk Ahmed, were rebuffed.

More puzzling is the declaration by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) that there is enough product, more than 1.5 billion litres that can last for one month in stock.

The Major Energies Marketers Association of Nigeria (MEMAN) also said its  members loaded 300 million litres between Tuesday and yesterday.

Despite these, the filling stations remained empty yesterday.

But marketers, under the auspices of MEMAN, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners of Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), denied hoarding the product.

An NNPCL official said the role of the corporation ends after importing the product and discharging same from the Mother Vessels.

Last week, the NNPCL blamed the scarcity on logistics challenges, stressing that any one day disruption of supply could take about three days to normalise.

In Lagos, the queues at the NNPCL filling stations spread to hundreds of metres. They were dispensing at the regular N568/litre.

The scarcity created an avenue for black marketers who sold a litre at between N1000 to N1200 in plastic containers.

MEMAN Executive Secretary Clement Isong said he was not aware that his members are hoarding the product.

“I am not aware and I don’t see why they would do so”, Isong said.

IPMAN National President Abubakar Maigandi said independent marketers were not hoarding PMS.

Maigandi said his members cannot hoard product because they have no tank farms.

According to him, independent marketers have no need to hoard the product since they can quickly sell and make some profits from instant vending.

The National President of PETROAN, Dr. Billy Harry, also dismissed the claim that retail outlet owners were hoarding product.

According to him the NNPCL obviously has no petrol to supply.

“It is not possible. No retail outlets owner will have fuel and hoard it at this season of scarcity. Clearly, there is no product,” Harry told our reporter

Scarcity hampering businesses, says Chamber of Commerce

The persistent petrol scarcity has been hampering the ease of doing business, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), lamented yesterday.

Its President, Emeka Obegolu, called on the Federal Government to urgently resolve the challenge.

He said: “The fuel shortage has made it more expensive for people and businesses to transport goods and conduct transactions, frustrating the ease of doing business.

“The current fuel scarcity is hurting businesses and hampering economic activities. We urge the government to address the root causes of this problem as a matter of priority.”

Obegolu said the scarcity made some unpatriotic citizens to increase prices in some parts of the country, leading to a consequent increase in transportation fares and logistics costs.

He expressed hope that the upcoming Dangote refinery and other new refineries would help eliminate this ugly trend and make Nigeria self-sufficient and less-reliant on fuel imports.

The ACCI boss said the availability of the product will ease speculations and reduce the hardship Nigerians are facing due to the fuel shortage.

“ACCI as the leading voice of the private sector in FCT will continue to be at the forefront of advocating for policies and interventions that support the growth and development of businesses,” Obegolu said.

Many depots empty, IPMAN alleges

  • By Muyiwa Lucas

Investigation showed yesterday that many depots have been dry since December, thus compounding the lingering petrol scarcity.

According to the IPMAN Branch Chairman at Satellite Depot, Ejigbo, Mr. Akin Akinrinade, the last time the facility got supply was in December 2023.

He said this was despite the rehabilitation of the pipeline from Escravos to the Satellite Depot in Lagos.

Akinrinade said: “The last time we loaded petrol in our depot was in December 2023. We source products now from the private depots. We have not been given supply at all otherwise we would have been loading from here.

“If we have petrol here in the Satellite Depot, we would not have this kind of situation Nigerians are experiencing at the moment. If our depot is being supplied, we have the capacity to truck out at least 200 trucks of 45, 000 litres of petrol daily.

“So, we are left with no other choice than to source products from private depots. As I talk to you now, most of the private depots don’t even have petrol at all. At Abule Ado depot, I don’t think any of them have petrol; along the Apapa axis, only two depots have and they sell at more than N700 per liter ex-depot; so it is not an interesting situation at all,” Akinrinade further said.

According to the Branch chairman, only the NNPCL can tell the nation what the problem is because they are the sole importer of petrol.

He said: “Last week, they told us it was logistics problems – even though they didn’t explain what the logistics problems were. We thought that by the end of last week, it would be over. We have approached the authorities and they kept assuring us of supply here; first, they said end of April and now they are saying end of May,” he regretted.

“The pact of supply is usually in the arrangement we have with the NNPCL, but at the time the NNPC and PPRC were unbundled, we were placed under the NNPCL Retail, which to me is an awkward arrangement. NNPCL Retail and IPMAN are competitors – we are business rivals. So, putting us under our competitor is not right.”

Akinrinade alleged plot to muscle IPMAN members out of business, adding that NNPCL retail outlets were being given preference.

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