The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) says the recent importation of toxic Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, into the country was not deliberate.
It added that there was no way the importers would have known that the petrol contained methanol, as checking for the substance was not a primary requirement for the relevant bodies.
NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD), Mele Kyari, stated this on Wednesday during an interaction with the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the circumstances surrounding the importation of the adulterated fuel into the country.
“There is no one out there to bring this product into this country deliberately,” he said.
“There is no way we would have seen this methanol except your supplier decides to disclose to you because it is not part of their requirements to look for this.”
Kyari stressed that the company was not aware of the presence of methanol in the imported fuel and has taken measures to manage the situation.
He explained that the loading terminal from where the toxic petrol was brought into the country has been supplying gasoline for a very long time, as it was a major terminal supplying fuel not only to West Africa but many countries in Europe.
The NNPC chief assured Nigerians that about 2.1 billion litres of the product would have been injected into the system before the end of the month.
“I can assure you that we have taken every necessary step to make sure that we maintain supply sufficiency, and as I have just reiterated for the benefit of Nigerians that we have a robust supply plan.
“By the end of this month, we will have up to 2.1 billion litres of PMS in this country (that will not contain methanol). Let us put it on record that what we always call panic-buying is nothing … I can assure you that we will contain this situation,” he added.
Kyari appeared before the lawmakers amid growing concerns over fuel scarcity which has worsened in Abuja, Lagos, and some parts of the country where hundreds of motorists were left stranded on long queues at filling stations in various parts of the country.
As part of measures to address the situation, the company directed all its depots and outlets to begin 24 hours operations across the country.
NNPC Group Executive Director (Downstream), Mr Adetunji Adeyemi, who briefed reporters on Tuesday in Abuja, stated that the company was already accelerating petrol distribution.
Stressing that several million litres of petrol were in stock, he revealed that the NNPC was expecting about 2.3 billion litres of petrol in the country by the end of the month.
Adeyemi said the company has constituted a monitoring team with the support of the authority and other security agencies to ensure the smooth distribution of petrol nationwide.