Nigerians could face more days of fuel scarcity due to the inability of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to supply products to private depots.
Many depot owners who spoke with The Guardian yesterday complained they were not getting allocations from the NNPC, making it difficult for them to release products to retail stations.
The owners, who used to import 65 per cent of products before the NNPC assumed the role of sole importer, said they would only bring in supplies if the Federal Government resumed the payment of subsidy.
The Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPMA) members noted that the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in Nigeria, based on the current exchange rate of N306, is about N170 per litre, stressing they must resort to subsidy, a policy already jettisoned by the Federal Government.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, however, insisted the corporation has imported more than enough products to meet national demand.
He said: “The depot owners are not importing products and they now depend on NNPC. The truth is that the corporation would have to give priority to its depots all over the country before considering private depots. You are aware that we also have our retail stations to supply.”
He assured the nation of NNPC’s commitment to importation, adding: “NNPC is on top of the situation and we believe that queues will be over in the next few days.”
DAPMA Executive Secretary, Olufemi Adewole, said there were no products in members’ tanks. “If the products are offshore, then surely, they cannot be considered to be available to Nigerians,” he said.
On why the association stopped the importation of petroleum products, Adewole said: “We all know that we presently run a fixed price regime of N145 per litre for petrol. Without any recourse to subsidy claims, however, we have no control on the international price of crude oil. Current import price of petrol is about N170 per litre. NNPC, which absorbs the attendant subsidy on behalf of the Federal Government, is the importer of last resort.
“We understand that NNPC meets this demand largely through its Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) framework. However, due to price challenges on the DSDP platform, some participants in the scheme failed to meet their supply quota of refined petroleum product, especially petrol, to NNPC. This is the main reason for this scarcity.
“Some people have blamed marketers for hoarding products. Unfortunately, this is so far from the truth. Hoarding is regarded as economic sabotage and we assure all Nigerians that our members are not involved in such illicit acts.”