As fuel queues grew longer at the few filling stations that sold the product in Lagos and Ogun states on Thursday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said it noticed the current hiccup in the supply chain a few days ago.
Motorists lamented that they had to spend many hours in queues for Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), while some petrol seekers with jerry cans complained that the product was not being sold to them and that they had to part with extra money to get it at some of the stations.
The long queues of desperate motorists at filling stations in parts of Lagos spilled onto the roads and disrupted the flow of traffic, making commuters and motorists to suffer more pain.
It was gathered that many of the private depots in Apapa, Lagos, where most marketers get petroleum products from for distribution to other states, did not have petrol to load.
The National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said although the NNPC had assumed the role of sole importer of petrol into the country, the corporation lacked adequate facilities to discharge and dispense the product without involving the private tank farm owners and marketers.
He said IPMAN members were being given maximum of eight trucks per day at the NNPC depot in Ejigbo, Lagos in the past five days, adding, “The depot has a deficiency of storage. Its tank can only take 60 trucks’ stock, which is not up to half-day loading. So, that is a special problem that has to be addressed. Before, the depot could load up to 120 to 130 trucks in a day.
“If the NNPC says it has enough cargo, let it share it to the depots it has throughput with so that there can be massive distribution of the product across the country. IPMAN is cooperating with the government so that we can get to the end of this issue.”
Efforts to get the comments of the Major Marketers’ Association of Nigeria and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association were not successful as their spokespersons did not immediately respond to telephone calls.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, however, said in a statement on Thursday that the corporation had doubled the daily supply of PMS from 700 trucks (about 27 million to 30 million litres) per day to 80 million litres per day since the hiccup in the supply chain was noticed.
“But we swiftly swung into action by doubling our supply nationwide. At the time the rumour started, we had about 30-day sufficiency. The normal daily supply to the nation is 700 trucks, equalling about 27 million to 30 million litres per day.
He added that the NNPC had enough products’ sufficiency that would last up to 30 days, adding that at least cargoes laden with one billion litres of petrol cargoes were heading to Nigerian shores at the end of December, which he said would return the country to a 30-day-plus sufficiency.
Baru said the fuel scarcity would soon fizzle out and warned marketers hoarding the product that they would lose their entire products to motorists if caught.
He commended the NNPC’s sister agencies, the Department of Petroleum Resources and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, for their support in helping to tackle the hoarding of PMS by filling stations.
Meanwhile, the Head of Operations, Lagos Zonal Office, DPR, Mr. Musa Tambuwa, on Thursday called on marketers to shun hoarding or face penalties.
“We are going to ensure that Nigerians are not defrauded. If we find any station engaging in sharp practices, be sure that the arm of the law will not hold back at such defaulters.”
The NNPC also announced that it had achieved 98 per cent automation of all transactions involving the supply, marketing and sale of the various grades and blends of the country’s crude oil across the world.
Its Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, Mele Kyari, said the automation, which would be concluded in 2018, had enabled the corporation to achieve an end-to-end monitoring of every barrel of crude oil sold in the country.
Commenting on the firm’s ability to monitor crude oil sale, Kyari said, “Today, at the click of a button, we can tell you how much crude oil is sold, at what price, who bought it and where it has gone to, etc.”
He said the projection was to operate a complete paperless crude oil data management regime in line with the ongoing transformation of the processes, which has witnessed reforms since 2015.
Kyari listed the reforms to include the open bid process of customer selection for lifting and purchase of Nigeria’s crude oil grades, emplacement of efficient crude for product import processes, leading to savings of $1bn in one year, as well as the introduction of improved pricing system.
He explained that the reform had led to the harmonisation of Nigeria’s crude oil data and lifting information, providing access to major internationally recognised reporting agencies like Plat and Argus Media to achieve real time reporting of the nation’s crude oil transactions.
He said this development had enabled the country to eliminate the perennial disagreement with its major stakeholder, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, on actual production and lifting figures.
Baru, who signed the MoU on bio-fuels project with the Benue State Government, stated that the project would provide employment for the teeming youths in the state.
“I believe that Benue has what it takes to lead the country in the bio-fuels industry. I hope that your state will soon move from the food basket to the fuel basket of the nation,” he said.
In his remarks, the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu, said the state was happy with the signing of the MoU, a development he noted was a watershed in the nation’s quest to find alternative sources of energy.
The Agasha-Guma bio-fuels project aims at developing an integrated sugarcane plantation and fuel-ethanol/sugar/power plant complex in Benue State through a Special Purpose Vehicle.
The NNPC said the project was expected to create one million direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians on completion, and would produce about 84 million litres of ethanol fuel annually, adding that it planned to mobilise to site by the first quarter of 2018.
In Kano, the DPR sanctioned eight filling stations, just as it confirmed improvement in distribution and supply of the product.
At the end of a three-day check of filling stations within the metropolis, the Acting Operations Controller, Kano Field Office, DPR, Mr. Paul Jezhi, said the team inspected not less than 166 filling stations within Kano.
Jhezi added, “You can see for yourselves that queues have disappeared in our filling stations. This is due to our close monitoring of how stations dispense the product. We also supervise their compliance level, with the stipulated price.
“We were being supplied between 20 and 24 trucks of the product daily, but it has now increased to about 40 trucks in order to correct the shortfall.”
The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, on Thursday warned petroleum marketers in the state against hoarding of fuel and other infractions, saying culprits would be punished.