The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja has been hit with sudden increase in scarcity of petrol in most of its major filling stations that hitherto sold the product with limited challenges.
Meanwhile, motorists and other users of petroleum products would have a sigh of relief as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will today reopen the Atlas Cove and Ejigbo Depots in Lagos, which pump fuel to the corporation's pipeline network and depots in the South-West, THISDAY has learnt.
Although, supply and sale of petrol in the city had been inconsistent for a long time now owing to lingering misunderstanding between the Federal Government and marketers of the product over the management of petrol subsidy claims in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF), the sudden increase of vehicular queues in most of the service stations visited yesterday indicated that product supply to the city may have become minimal.
The shortage may have been occasioned by the shut-down of the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company (KRPC) for two weeks by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as distortion of product supplies and distribution by the current face-off between the government and marketers.
Following an enquiry by THISDAY, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary, Products and Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC) could not provide adequate information as regards the latest development and so allegations that the current ordeal of Capital Oil and Gas Ltd may have contributed in upsetting the distribution of products could not be ascertained.
Acting Group General Manager Public Affairs of the NNPC, Mr. Fidel Pepple, simply said he could not respond to the enquiry.
THISDAY had reported that the NNPC had shut down the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company (KRPC) for two weeks for routine maintenance; a development which may have contributed to the acute shortage in supply considering that the corporation had relied on the Kaduna refinery to augment its supply to the city and other parts of the north.
However, the decision to reopen the Atlas Cove depot, it was learnt, followed the repair of the damaged pipeline at Arepo area of Ogun State.
A source at Atlas Depot told THISDAY last night that the pipeline was repaired last week and the test run was completed last night.
"We have started pumping products to Ejigbo depot. In fact, Ejigbo has about four million litres of PMS and the facility will start loading to trucks tomorrow (today). We have also started pumping from Ejigbo to Mosimi and in due course we will pump to Ibadan, Ore and Ilorin," he said.
THISDAY gathered that all trucks that were programmed to load NNPC products from the private depots at Apapa have been re-directed to load at Ejigbo depot to ease the traffic congestion in Apapa.
This development is however a big blow to the private depot owners, who have been selling products at exorbitant prices because of the collapse of NNPC facilities.
The Atlas Cove is designed to pump fuel to all these depots in the South-West along System 2B, which is the most active depot system in the country.
The Pipeline Products and Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC had in August shut down System 2B Network, which pumps imported products from the Atlas Cove Depot to Ejigbo Satellite Depot, also in Lagos and Mosimi in Ogun State, as well as to Ibadan, Ore and Ilorin Depots.
The shutdown of System 2B followed a pipeline fire and explosion in Arepo, Ogun State, which was caused by sabotage.
The explosion was caused by vandals who attempted to siphon petroleum products from the network.
The vandals also attacked and killed some NNPC workers, who went to access the extent of the damage by the explosion.
With most of the NNPC depots in the South West out of operation, all tankers from different parts of the country have been coming into the private depots in Lagos to lift NNPC products.
This situation worsened the fuel crisis and created serious traffic gridlock in Apapa area since the past few months.