Efforts by the federal government to liberalize the downstream sector of the petroleum industry has continued to yield results that have impacted positively on the oil sector. As we have seen in recent years, the deregulation has seen the emergence of private petroleum distribution companies which in turn have employed thousand of Nigerians, contributed to tax revenue amongst other benefits. However, all those gains could not have been possible without the support of government agencies such as the Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC)
For a country as large as Nigeria, covering a land area of 925,000 sq km, and with a populated estimated at 168 million people, the safest, most efficient and cheapest way to distribute petroleum products is through the various PPMC pipelines that run across the length and breath of the country with several loaded depots and pumping stations. However, due to the incessant acts of vandalism, almost all existing pipelines are down to distributing only about 35million litres of PMS daily.
However, this situation is gradually being redressed especially since the present Managing Director of the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company, Alhaji Haruna Momoh came on board in 2011. Within a relatively short period, the PPMC has been able to resuscitate the existing depots across the country to full operational capacity.
For example, from Kaduna where the refinery and the PPMC area office is located, petroleum products is now pumped directly to depots in such places as Minna, Suleja, Kano, Gusau for the North West and North Central Zone, while the Gombe area office takes care of the North East zone, thereby feeding the Maiduguri and Yola axis.
Before now, major independent marketers would have to go to Lagos for 'bridging' and were operating at low capacity utilization. It is therefore a positive development now that the various geo-political zones in the country have their own depots, a situation which has further eased pressure on our roads.
The multiplying effect of this, is that money meant for maintaining our roads can now be deployed to other critical sectors, like health, education, power, etc while funds from the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) can also be channeled to other developmental projects across the nation. Also important is that with the present state of the depots, working at full capacity utilization, it is estimated that over 5 million jobs can be created for the teeming unemployed youths across the country.
The federal government must ensure that adequate protection is taken to protect the network of pipelines in the nation as pipeline vandalization continues to pose a major challenge to the downstream sector. Also, the various stakeholders in the sector should support the on-going transformation in the oil and gas industry.
While commending the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison Madueke and her team for creating the enabling environment, one individual that must be singled out for special commendation is the PPMC Managing Director, Haruna Momoh, who although a lawyer by training has continued to prove cynics wrong. When he was appointed as the helms man at the PPMC in 2011, few people believed he would be able to transform the downstream sector as the argument then was the position of MD, PPMC was best suited for engineers and not lawyers.
He has also resuscitated the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Plant (LPG) in Port-Harcourt and Warri area office. Gombe area office is ready for commissioning, while idea is to flood the market with cooking gas will reduce the price drastically for consumers of this product.
In the South West, from the Atlas cove jetty, petroleum products are pumped to satellite depots in Lagos, also to Mosimi area office in Ogun State, to Ibadan depot, Ore depot and also Ilorin depot respectively in the South-South and South East zones of the country. Aba has been resuscitated and fully operational. The city of Aba in the South East is a commercial hub and very strategic to the economy of this country. Abia State Governor T.A. Orji was on ground to commission this laudable project. He was full of joy that Aba and the entire South East will be wet with petroleum products.
In the next few months also, the Enugu depot will be on stream and fully operational wile Makurdi depot will be next in line. That is to say from Port-Harcourt area office, petroleum products will be pumped to Aba, Enugu and Makurdi depots respectively, Warri area office is fully operational and petroleum is now being pumped to Benin depot which was recently commissioned by the Hon. Minister of Petroleum.
In line with President Goodluck Jonathan's transformation agenda for the country, this young man has transformed the downstream sector of the industry beyond every reasonable doubt and there are numerous economic advantage for this country to benefit from.
-Bello, a public affairs analyst wrote from Abuja