By Yunus Yunus
Lagos – Normalcy seems to have returned to petrol stations within Lagos metropolis as most of them were seen selling petrol on Thursday since the Federal Government directed Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to clear the queues.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who monitored the situation reported that most filling stations within Lagos metropolis that had products were opened to customers.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Dec. 6 during the Federal Executive Council meeting, directed the minister and Dr Baru Maikanti, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, to ensure immediate availability of the product across the country.
An official of Mobil Petrol Station at Agidingbi, who preferred anonymity, said that all stations which had products were directed to sell them to avoid being sealed.
The manager attributed the current availability of petrol to increased supply from the depots.
He said that the NNPC, through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), directed all Lagos depots owners to increase the volume of petrol supplied to stations in Lagos.
According to him, “we have been instructed to commence 24-hour sales in all our retail outlets in Lagos.
“Today alone, we were supplied two-tanker load of petrol and we are likely to still get one tanker of the product today.
“We hope that this trend will continue till the end of the year,” he said.
Mr Azeez Osuolale, the manager of a Mobil Petrol Station in Maryland, said that the station provided 24-hour services to motorists, adding that normalcy was gradually returning.
Osuolale said that the availability of the product had forced many filling stations to sell at approved official price of N145.
“Those selling above pump price of N145 per litre are risking their business because DPR will not spare them if they are caught.
An Oando petrol attendant, Shina Adetayo, said that “I am happy that the era of long queues to buy petrol is gradually ending because of late closure from office.
“NNPC should do all within its power to regularly make petrol available at filling stations,” he said.
NAN reports that most filing stations around Falomo, Obalende, Ikeja, Iyanapaja, Abule Egba, Ojota, Onipanu, Ojuelegba, Lawanson, Stadium Road, Orile, Ikorodu and Shomolu were busy dispensing the products.
However, the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) blamed the NNPC for the scarcity in the country due to the shortfall in supply to depots.
Its Executive Secretary, Mr Olufemi Adewole, told NAN that inability of NNPC to make provision for adequate import caused the wide gap.
According to him, it is only NNPC that is bringing products because currently no marketers are importing petrol because the landing cost is higher than selling price.
Adewole explained that the reason marketers were not importing was that the landing cost of petrol had increased to about N172.76 per litre.
“If you add all the distribution costs, the pump price will stand at N182.17 kobo.
“But the government is saying we should sell at N145 without subsidy. That’s why we have to depend on NNPC to sell to us.
“We cannot import because no marketers can import at that big margin.
“We also noticed a supply gap in what they brought in. It was not enough at a particular time and the result is what we are seeing today”, he said.
Adewole said that the gap in petrol importation shortfall was noticed during a meeting of vessel importers with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) when NNPC failed to declare its imported vessels, adding that NNPC ought to have disclosed numbers of cargoes expected in December.
He urged the management of NNPC to urgently replenish the stock, to avoid depot owners and marketers running out of stock.
He added that if the refineries were working at optimal capacity, the country would not experience scarcity.
The DAPPAMA scribe said that the oil and gas stakeholders knew there would be scarcity long ago, but it was systematically managed to avoid creating panic buying.
“ NNPC should have adopted the same method applied in December 2016 to address fuel scarcity because they knew that there would be high demand of petroleum product in December.
“It is only NNPC that is bringing products in. We also noticed a supply gap in what they brought in. It was not enough at a particular time and the result is what we are seeing today”, he said.
Adewole said that full deregulation of the downstream sector remained the best option to address ongoing lingering fuel scarcity because marketers would source for foreign exchange to bring the product and sell at profitable price to avoid scarcity.
“That remains the long term solution to frequent fuel scarcity of petrol during yuletide period.” (NAN)