Fuel scarcity looms as marketers ration product

NNPC

•NNPC blames striking tanker drivers, assures of adequate stock
•Govt earns N2.6b in eight weeks from price modulation
AS long queues returned to filling stations in Lagos, there is the growing anxiety that the shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol may soon hit the nation .

The looming scarcity may have been compounded by a strike by members of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) Association, Mobil Road, Apapa, Lagos who are protesting against what they called the unjust removal of the members of the Tunde Akinade-led executive of the association.

Meanwhile, about N2.6 billion has accrued to a special account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since the petrol price modulation regime came into force on January 1, 2016.

The out-going Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Farouk Ahmed, disclosed this in Abuja yesterday while handing over to the General Manager, Administration and Human Resources, Moses, Mbaba, who is the most senior officer in the agency

Long queues were particularly noticeable at filling stations in Surulere, Victoria Island, Lagos Island and Ikoyi, in Lagos metropolis.Reports have it that the queues have also started building up in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Owerri, Imo and Abakaliki, Ebonyi.

But the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ohi Alegbe, while assuring that the midstream subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), had intervened in the dispute and that normalcy would soon be restored assured that there was sufficient stock of products in Lagos and across the country.He advised motorists not to resort to panic buying as the situation was under control.

The corporation reiterated its commitment to uninterrupted product supply to the general public in keeping with its mandate.The Manager, Public and Government Affairs of Mobil Oil Nigeria, Akin Fatunke, told The Guardian that there was never an issue between Mobil and PTD, but internal differences within the association.

The Guardian learnt that the chairman, secretary, financial secretary of the tanker drivers body were suddenly removed from their office on Monday and allegedly replaced with others after an election.

One of the members of the association, Mr Mohammed Katsina, disclosed that the constitution did not give room for an overthrow of the members of the executive.“The elected executive members must complete their tenure and there is no going back on our strike until their positions are restored,” he said.

Meanwhile, many marketers are unhappy over the fuel imports allocation quota issued by the PPPRA where the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was given 78 per cent with other marketers sharing the remaining 22 per cent.

This situation has created a huge deficit in the supply value chain, as depots are now largely used as throughput rather than product importation business.

A fuel marketer, Ajayi Hassan told The Guardian yesterday that the product was scarcely available at the normal price at the depots, thereby forcing marketers to sell at higher price or adjust the pumps.

Hassan said: “There is scarcity of products. The NNPC is not importing enough, and we are not getting at normal price at the depots. The independent marketers have exhausted their stocks and we are all relying on NNPC. The main issue is that the NNPC often delay product supply after. They will ask you to pay but they will not give you product until after four months. How will I pay today and be waiting for the next four months before I can sell fuel?

“Many of the marketers have shut down their stations because they are not making profit at the official price. In fact, I have also shut down one of my stations and I am also planning to shut another one before month end.”

It was learnt that most of the independent and major marketers have imported and emptied their tanks, they are now waiting for next allocation.

The out-going PPRA boss Ahmed explained that the delay in handover was informed by the need to compile a comprehensive handover note for his successor in office in view of the price modulation regime that was still at the infancy stage.

He said: “As at the 12th February, 2016, because we verify based on what was imported, about N2.6billion has accrued to that account. The fund is still low because most of the cargoes arrived in December last year. The PPPRA has already communicated to the appropriate authorities that we are in the regime of over-recovery.”

He explained that so far, N8 had emerged the average figure for the year, saying, “indeed as at Tuesday close of market, the subsidy on petrol was N13.81 over-recovery.

“There is already an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is managed by the Accountant General of the Federation where all over-recovery funds are deposited. So, there is no question about where does the money from over-recovery money goes into.”

According to him, all the money that goes into the over-recovery account will also be used to pay for the subsidy when the price of crude oil soars in the international market.

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