By EMMANUELLA ANOKAM
ABUJA- The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Limited) on Tuesday engaged with the oil marketers and security agencies to find ways of addressing the lingering fuel crisis in the country.
The engagement, held in Abuja at the instance of the NNPC Limited had in attendance the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, retired Col. Hameed Ali.Other in attendance were Authority Chief Executive, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed and leadership of oil marketers including Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Also at the meeting were the leadership of Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) among others.
Malam Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), NNPC Ltd. said the fuel distribution crisis was of a monumental proportion, which had resulted in a number of issues and taken a different dimension.
Kyari decried the fact that Nigerian fuel was being smuggled to other countries and could only be done either by the people in the industry or those connected or buying from the operators including in marine containers.
“We have evidence that some of our customers are actually smuggling the vessels to other countries but we will get to the root of this and appropriate agency will deal with it.
“We are not dealing with a supply problem, as we speak we have 831 million litres in marine and in various depots we have 738 million litres that are documented in platforms of the industry regulators. We do not have AGO problem for truck movement.
“Any time the evacuation figure goes beyond 60 million litres in the country we have a problem. Early in 2022 due to the contamination fuel, evacuation came down to 56 million then we had a crisis, then we ramped up and achieved normalcy.
“In October 2022 when the flooding happened trucks could not go to destinations particularly south to north, so evacuation went beyond 60ml and since then we have done possible things to keep it above.
“Therefore, there is no shortage of fuel in the market, they may be in the wrong destination,” he said.
He said that there were change in some dynamics, transportation issues, logistics on vessels and handling charges which arrived at ex-depot price of Lagos -N172, Warri/Oghara – N183, Calabar – N185 and Port Harcourt – N180 but no one kept to this.
“Instead, we had a countered submission of N186, N192, N198 while some depots range from N172 to N260 as ex-depot price. There is simply no way independent marketers will buy and not sell at prices seen across the country.
“This is the reality we are dealing with and the end results are queues. if it is not handled at the depot level, it cannot be controlled at the station level,” the he said.
He also decried the fees and levies imposed on the product that were not supposed to be which added up to overall pain of Nigerians.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the GCEO said the issues on pricing were receiving attention to avoid Nigerians being exploited, while framework was being put in place to monitor products to get to actual destination.
“With the volume that we are pushing into the market and understanding we are reaching with the marketers not to sell with greed it will ease the situation, we regret the situation and apologise to Nigerians,” Kyari said.
In his remarks, Irabo said the involvement of the defence and security establishment and the resolution of the crises in the oil and gas were paramount.
“The challenge of availability of fuel across the country has risen to a proportion that it had become a concern for the defence and security of our country. The government is not handicapped and I need to indicate that there are alternatives and nobody is indispensable.
” I believe that the solution lies within the remit of the framework that you will be establishing and if there is no solution, I pray it did not get to a level where the alternative will be activated,” the CDS warned.
Also speaking, IGP Usman Baba describe the situation as an issue of being patriotic and increasing the monitoring process of the oil distribution which posed a major problem.
“And if the distribution process has loopholes to be exploited there is an alternative to increase the level of monitoring and supervision and to that effect it is our role to assist the NNPC in monitoring process for lead way,’’ Baba said.
In his remarks, Ahmed said NMDPRA had sanctioned seven erred depots two weeks ago to serve as a deterrent and also had the mandate to suspend any licence from operating without hesitation.
He urged the oil stakeholders; including IPMAN to collaborate with them to tackle the on-going constraint which bordered around pricing and logistics, thereby frowned at speculations that the authority was not sanctioning depots.
MOMAN President, Adetunji Oyebanjo who explained that the industry did not invest appropriately to things needed across the value chain for distribution, described the situation as a critical one which had allowed sharp practices.
DAPPMAN President, Dame Winifred Akpani, while pledging commitment expressed dissatisfaction over the distribution and supply chain, adding that it was needless giving product to marketers who exploit and would not get it to stations.
Akpani also appealed to the Federal Government to deregulate the product.
IPMAN President, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo however urged the NNPCL to designate certain depots for its members to manage, monitor and load to ease the distribution problems.(NAN)