166.91m litres of fuel stuck in depots as marketers blame NNPC for scarcity


LAGOS— About 166.91 million litres of premium motor spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, are stuck in various depots in Lagos, a situation that gave rise to the resurgence of long queues at filling stations in Lagos metropolis and other parts of the country.fuel The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and its downstream subsidiary, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, are being blamed for the current petrol shortages because of a loading directive not exceeding 50 trucks daily given to the depots. The blame comes as NNPC said it has stepped up collaboration with the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and other downstream industry players to end the resurgence of fuel queues in some major cities across the country, especially in Lagos and environs. It is uncertain how much fruit this effort will yield as Vanguard investigations revealed that of an opening stock level of 140.48 million litres of petrol available in 31 depots in the Lagos area yesterday, only 6.09 million litres were loaded out. This leaves an outstanding of about 135 million litres stuck in the depots, which had increased to about 166.91 million litres closing stock at press time. Broken further, of the 59 depots operated by majors, independents and private owners in Lagos, 31 had the available stock quantity, but only 16 depots had “liftable” PMS, that is, had enough stock above the jet stock level or above minimum requirement levels.
Depot operations Resources

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Trucks loading Further investigations revealed that most of the depots being used by NNPC/PPMC for throughput or storage purposes were directed not to load above 50 trucks daily, thus compounding the shortages situation, a development that some depots operators cashed in to sell at N105/litre ex-depot, against government’s prescribed N77 per litre. According to one of the depot operators, who preferred anonymity: “No matter the quantity of product NNPC gives us, since they have said not more than 50 trucks per day, we cannot go beyond that. “Our depot is now like a ghost yard, because we’ve finished with the 50, but we still have stock, and there is a long queue of trucks waiting to load outside.” But NNPC, in a statement, yesterday, said it had “secured the commitment of the leadership of MOMAN for effective collaboration in this regard and assured that the queues will disappear in the days ahead as supplies are ramped up across the country.” The statement signed by the corporation’s spokesman, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, also said: “The corporation noted that to achieve this, truck-out to filling stations in the Lagos area has been increased from the regular 245 to 295 trucks per day (9.7 million) while truck-out to fuel stations in Abuja from Suleja depot has been stepped up to 210 trucks per day (6.9 million litres) from the regular supply of 160 trucks per day.” It added that “similar increment in supply volume has been activated in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Kano and Kaduna areas to ensure seamless availability of petroleum products across every nook and cranny of the country.” While appealing for understanding and support from members of the public, the NNPC assured that it was doing everything possible to end challenges experienced by motorists, commuters and the general public in accessing petrol. “Within the last 48 hours we have received six cargoes of petrol (270 million litres) and beginning from March 1, 2016, we shall begin to receive one cargo of petrol every day (45 million litres),” the corporation said. Depot operations Resources PMS STOCK LEVEL IN LAGOS…Source: Ministry of Petroleum Resources However, marketers insist that NNPC has been unable to meet its PMS import allocation of 78 per cent awarded to it by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, leaving a paltry 22 per cent for the rest of the marketers, mostly the majors for the first quarter of 2016. Even at that, the majors and others are unable to bring in products due to foreign exchange challenges. Managing Director, Pilot Oil Limited, Mr. Paul Osahon, told Vanguard that marketers had been complaining about their inability to access foreign exchange, which he said was “a hinderance to getting fuel supply.” Although other marketers, particularly the independents and depot operators have criticised the PPPRA’s Q1 PMS import award, saying it wa a return of market monopoly by NNPC. Such a monopoly, they argued, was responsible for the sharp practices at the depots, particularly with regards to ex-depot pricing because many of the independent marketers lift products from the spot market, rather than through the limited number of depots used by NNPC for throughput. Motorists keep vigil at outlets While NNPC resolves the crisis, many motorists now keep vigil at filling stations to get the scarce commodity. According to one Mr. Francis Okafor, “I have been held hostage at this station for the past three hours. Apparently, the situation is very bad because most of the filling stations along Orile and Ojo axis are shut down, while some of the independent marketers have inflated their prices above the regulated price. “This is obnoxious for a country that produces enough crude that could service its needs and those of other neighbouring countries in need of the product.” Similarly, at Ojo, the situation was even worse as marketers sell at N100 per litre. When Vanguard visited Assoil, customers were seen scrambling to gain entrance as fuel was sold afor as much as N120 per litre. Meanwhile, the NNPC also announced that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had directed the full activation of an Intra-Ministerial Joint Monitoring Task Force, for effective products distribution. The Task Force is made up of officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR; PPPRA, and PPMC, who are charged “to ensure and enforce compliance to laid down rules and regulations governing the supply and distribution of petroleum products.”
CREDIT: THE VANGUARD NEWSPAPER, NIGERIA
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