The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has released the first quarter of 2014 fuel import allocations to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the private marketers, THISDAY has gathered.
The PPPRA's action, it was learnt, will effectively end weeks of artificial scarcity of petrol, which was created by marketers, following the delay in the release of the allocations.
THISDAY also gathered that contrary to the impression created by the marketers that their allocations for the third quarter of 2013 expired last December 31, they actually covered transactions up to January 2014.
Though the PPPRA is yet to officially release the list of successful marketers, a source at the agency told THISDAY at the weekend that apart from the NNPC, which was given over 50 per cent of the import allocation, over 30 private marketers were also given allocations to import petrol for the first quarter, which commenced on February 1, 2014.
The source, who sighted the list, identified some of the private marketers that were given import allocations to include Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, MRS Oil and Gas, Heyden Petroleum, Techno Oil Limited, NIPCO Plc, Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, Forte Oil Plc, Conoil Plc, Oando Plc, Folawiyo Oil and Gas, Total Nigeria Plc, Nepal Energy and Matrix Energy.
The Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Thomas Olawore, also confirmed to THISDAY that the allocations had been released.
"The first quarter allocation is out now. They have released it. Motorists should calm down and stop panic-buying," he said.
NNPC acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, also told THISDAY that the oil corporation received the import allocation from the PPPRA at the weekend.
He, however, said he did not have details of the volume of petrol allocated to the NNPC to import for the quarter unless he confirms from the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC.
Ibrahim also stated that contrary to the impression created by the private marketers that the third quarter 2013 ended last December 31, it actually ended on January 31, 2014.
"The impression is that the PPPRA delayed the release of the first quarter 2014 for one-and-a-half months up till last Friday; but it is not true. There was a delay in the release of the allocations sometime last year. So, the third quarter 2013 started from November 2013 to January 31, 2014 instead of October 2013 to December 31, 2013 as it was supposed to be. "The delay of the first quarter is actually for 21 days but since first quarter of the year started in January, the marketers created the impression that a new allocation should start on January 1. They created the impression that the PPPRA had delayed the allocation for over one month and they engaged in hoarding products to sell above official price," he said.
Before the immediate past Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Stanley, came on board in November 2011, the business of fuel importation into the country was an all-comers' affair, resulting in manipulations and malpractices that swelled subsidy claims to about N2 trillion, which was considered by the federal government as unsustainable.
A total of 128 companies were engaged in fuel importation in the old regime thus providing an opportunity for the abuse of the system.
However, in the first import permit handled by Stanley in the first quarter of 2012, the number of participating companies was reduced from 128 to 42, before it was further reduced to 39 in the third quarter of 2012.
The volume of imported products also dropped from 5.036 billion litres in the first quarter of 2012 to 4.20 billion litres in the third quarter of 2012.
But due to growing concerns that the inability of these accredited importers to access credits from the banks could fuel another crisis in the system, the PPPRA has expanded the list to over 40 participating companies since 2013.