*Reps c’ttee begins probe of importers of product *Inspection failure regrettable — FG *As motorists, others await FG’s 2.1bn litres
By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Obas Esiedesa
THERE were indications, yesterday, that the prolonged petrol shortage in the country will last till the end of February 2022, due mainly to the gap created in the distribution chain.
Investigation by Vanguard indicated that the stoppage of the imported bad petrol, evacuation and importation of new product required a long time to actualise, leading to instability in the value chain, which needed some time to stabilise.
National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, who confirmed the development, told Vanguard: “At present, there is still shortage of petrol nationwide. Most of our members do not have the product because the depot owners and others prefer to supply their outlets at this time.
“But we expect that the instability will be over by the end of February 2022. The government said it has imported 2.1 billion litres of the product. Since this quantity is coming from the spot market, it will take some days to arrive. We are hoping that the expected arrival of the product will make a lasting impact.”
Similarly, the Managing Director/CEO, 11 Plc, Adetunji Oyebanji, who noted that the nation would require many days to recover from the fuel shortage, said: “The problem is now mainly operational. The system was starved of fuel for many days because of bad product disruption. Now, we have been loading continuously since last Monday.
“Certainly, the situation will be better in Lagos by Monday this week (today). But, it might take more days to ease in Abuja and other parts of the nation, due to trucks’ travel time, bad roads and other issues.”
Meanwhile, the shortage has culminated in sharp practices, including diversion of product, smuggling, meter adjustment and hawking at high prices.
Checks by Vanguard, yesterday, showed that it was only the state-owned stations and the major marketers that sell the product at N162 or N165 per litre regulated price.
The independents, who got their supplies at between N165 and N175 per litre, sell it at between N180 and N200 per litre, while illegal retailers sell theirs at between N200 and N500 per litre, depending on location.
Commenting on the situation, Osatuyi, said: “These are abnormal times. It is difficult to control marketers who source their products at different prices. They also have the right to sell them at different prices to recover costs.”
However, the management of some filling stations seized the opportunity to force sale of some products, including insecticides, before dispensing fuel to motorists.
The trend was noticed in Alimosho area of Lagos State as early as 7:00 am on Saturday, along Egbeda-Ikotun Road when a filling station was seen making it compulsory for motorists to buy insecticide.
The development led to protest by some motorists who could not afford the condition attached, while desperate motorists took advantage of the situation to pull out of long queues to gain entrance through the exit gate to buy fuel.
Most of the filling stations were not dispensing as their gates remained shut, while a few other stations were selling above the approved pump price, between N200 and N300 per litre.
Reps committee probes importers
Meanwhile, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Downstream, Abdullahi Gaya, said yesterday that the committee had concluded arrangements to investigate or probe importers of the bad fuel into the country.
He said: “By the grace of God, we intend to meet the alleged importers of the bad fuel on Tuesday this week (tomorrow). It is very important we get to the root of the matter. We have the mandate to investigate and make recommendations to the House of Representatives. We have already invited them to appear before us.”
Gaya, who declined to mention the names of the invited companies, said the committee would be transparent and fair to all parties.
Inspection failure regrettable — FG
Also, yesterday, the Federal Government expressed regret over the failure of its agencies to identify imported adulterated petrol that led to shortage across the country.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, in a statement in Abuja, sympathised with Nigerians “over the unforeseen hardship” caused by the shortages.
Sylva in the statement signed by his Senior Adviser (Media and Communications), Horatius Egua, said the government was working hard to ensure that petrol supply normalised across the country.
Major marketers pledge support
Already, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, has pledged support required to enable the government end the fuel shortage.
Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Clement Isong, stated: “The recent importation of off-spec petrol into the country and the subsequent directive to withdraw the affected products from the market created a huge supply gap.
” We know that the withdrawal of the four vessels disrupted the supply chain leading to panic buying by Nigerians.”
Harp on full deregulation
Furthermore, the major oil marketers also harped on the full deregulation of the downstream sector in order to bring about lasting stability.
Specifically, they added: “It was imperative for the downstream petroleum sector to be fully deregulated with the importation of PMS liberalised to ensure improved supply and stability.”