Fuel queues linger, marketers in dark about NNPCL’s logistics challenges

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Oil marketers have said they do not have details of the logistic challenges that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited claimed are responsible for the current low supply of products nationwide.

Fresh petrol scarcity resurfaced on Wednesday last week and has worsened, leaving Nigerians to grapple with the effects of the development.

The scarcity has since driven up prices in Lagos to as high as ₦800 per litre in some filling stations belonging to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, and as high as ₦1,200 per litre at the black market.

Before the scarcity, petrol was sold at around ₦610 per litre at stations belonging to the Major Energy Marketers Association of Nigeria.

Some filling stations sell petrol for as high as N850 to ₦900 per litre in locations such as Maryland, Ikeja, Agege, Iyana Ipaja, and other outskirts of Lagos.

In some states, the product sells for more than ₦1,000 per litre at filling stations. Even at that rate, most filling stations have since shut their doors due to a lack of products.

The NNPCL blamed the development on logistics challenges. The spokesperson for the company Olufemi Soneye said last week that the challenges have been resolved.

But almost a week later, oil marketers have said they are in the dark about the nature of those challenges. They also dismissed claims that they were hoarding the products.

“Do you blame oil marketers for the current situation? If NNPCL gives us products, we will sell them because we are businessmen. We are in this business to make money, so we won’t keep products in our tanks if we have,” the Chairman of IPMAN Satellite Depot, Lagos, Akin Akinrinade said on a live television programme.

“They said they have a logistics problem and have 240 million litres in store to distribute. But that was what they told us since last weekend. They said the logistics challenges have been resolved but they didn’t tell us the type of logistics problem they have.

“For now, NNPCL stations are mostly the ones selling with just a few others getting supply. But you know our members have the largest number of stations nationwide. If they give IPMAN stations products, you will see that the queues will disappear immediately,” Akinrinade added.

On his part, a former chairman of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, now MEMAN, and the Chief Executive Officer, Mobil Oil now 11 Plc, Tunji Oyebanji, said NNPCL was starving oil marketers of products.

“There is no petrol because NNPCL is not giving us fuel. According to them, they don’t have smaller vessels to take the fuel from the larger vessels. Others are saying it is because of bridging claims. They are not telling us the truth, because, as I speak, I don’t have fuel in my depot. I am going around begging for fuel.

“If you tell NNPCL you need say like 80, 000 tons of products now, they will give you 10, 000 tons. So, you will sell small, and then everything goes dry again.

“If they claim they have fuel and no products in our tanks, then, it still translates to a no-fuel situation. Again, NNPCL is selling to us at around N600 per litre, and as of today, the landing cost of gasoline at the international market is ₦847 per litre.

“So, if I buy at ₦847/litre and add other costs, the pump price will be about ₦1400 per litre. So, if I sell at that price in my station, who will buy it? Even we marketers can’t buy much at that price. So, we continue to manage the situation.

“And if we make too much noise, they will tell us to go and import too. How will we import with the high exchange rate? If we import on our own, who will buy from us at that high price?

“Those currently selling at low prices know how they go about it because, during scarcity, everybody will be doing whatever they like,” he said.

The Public Relations Officer of IPMAN, Chinedu Ukadike, on Sunday, said that the prevailing scarcity of petrol could persist for an additional two weeks.

Ukadike told journalists that the product was not available in the country, because most refineries in Europe were undergoing turnaround maintenance.

“I also have it on good authority that most of the refineries in Europe are undergoing turnaround maintenance, so sourcing petroleum products has become a bit difficult.

“NNPC Group CEO has assured us that there will be improvement in the supply chain because their vessels are arriving.

“Once that is done, normalcy will return. This is because once the 30-day supply sufficiency is disrupted, it takes two to three months to restore it”, he said.

Unconfirmed speculations doing the rounds have also woven the current scarcity around an imminent increase in the price of PMS, which according to them, led to excessive hoarding, and panic buying, among other things.

While the public was still hoping for an improvement as promised by the NNPCL, IPMAN had threatened to withdraw services over non-payment of ₦200bn bridging claims.

The association’s unit chairman and spokesperson, Aba Depot, Oliver Okolo, who made the threat, said it was with the backing of the IPMAN’s national leadership.

He claimed that the debt is being owed by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.