The scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, is due to the inability of marketers and some depot owners to pay for the services of ‘daughter’ vessels required to evacuate imported fuel from the ‘mother’ vessels from offshore, The Nation findings revealed yesterday.
‘Mother’ vessels are tanker ships that bring the product into the country, but berth on the high sea, while ‘daughter’ vessels are those used in conveying the product from the point of berthing on the high seas to the port before it is emptied into depot tanks.
Apart from payments to the ‘daughter’ vessel owners, the marketers pay the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) for the use of its facilities and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for security in dollars.
Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) Clement Isong, said although there were vessels laden with petrol imported by the NNPCL on the high seas waiting to discharge, the cost of hiring ‘daughter’ vessels for the operation has been discouraging due to the high cost.
Isong said hiring a ‘daughter’ vessel to bring the product from onshore to offshore now costs $45,000 per day as against $20,000 because of the high cost of diesel.
Isong said: “The challenge is the exchange rate and the scarcity. It is very difficult to get the dollars. A ‘daughter’ vessel is hired for 10 days to discharge the content from the ‘mother’ vessel. This means that it has shot up from $200,000 to $450,000. Then, marketers and depot owners also pay the NPA and NIMASA charges in dollars. Yet, the dollar is scarce and difficult to get.”
This situation, he explained, is the reason many marketers and depot owners are unable to lift petrol from the ‘mother’ vessels.
Isong said even when some of them lift the product, they still have to factor in the cost of the dollar and other logistics at their depot because no business likes to operate at a loss.
He added: “The problem is really the scarcity of the dollar. The higher the dollar rate, the higher the cost of operation. Unfortunately, you also have these charges to pay to government agencies, like NIMASA and the NPA in dollars.