The Federal Government, yesterday, granted licence to 42 oil marketers to import 4.8 billion litres of petroleum products for the second quarter of the year to curb fuel scarcity.
Agency reports quoted a statement from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, which was never sent to Nigerian media houses, nor confirmed by the agency when Vanguard sought their confirmation through several calls placed and text messages to Dr. Wole Adamolekun, an Executive Director in PPPRA.
Among the major importers are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; members of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, including, Mobil, Total and Oando.
However, neither MOMAN nor the individual oil companies responded to calls from Vanguard.
The list also included many other smaller local firms, which analysts hope followed the due process, as compared to previous practices where briefcase companies were issued import licences that led to the subsidy scam still under investigations by the Nigerian authorities.
The petroleum market has been awaiting clarity from Nigeria on how the new import regime will work since the government attempted to remove petrol import subsidies on January 1, but was forced to partly reinstate them.
The Federal Government pays importers to bring in refined gasoline and then sells it to the public at knocked down prices, a huge drain on the treasury. Efforts to reform or scrap the system have repeatedly been scuppered by public opposition.
At the end of a week of mass protests against a near doubling in fuel costs, the government also ordered several probes into graft in the subsidy scheme and other areas of the oil industry, a major focus of public anger.
Nigeria's gasoline import business is one of the key areas within Africa's largest energy industry that has been riddled with corruption, according to government officials and oil sector audits.
According to PPPRA, "the volumes to be supplied into the system for Q2 2012 is based on marketers' performance in the past and their ability to secure the needed financing.
"Failure of a company to deliver the approved volume shall render the company liable for exclusion from the scheme for two successive quarters or more, aside from payment of appropriate re-engagement fees."