The fuel scarcity situation in Nigeria is set to abate, as major fuel marketers, yesterday, said they have secured the delivery of about 74 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, at their depots in Lagos.
This was even as the scarcity worsened, with many of the filling stations closed to motorists, while the few that were selling had long queues.
A number of the filling stations that were seen dispensing the products were selling above the official pump price of N97 per litre, while others collected fees before allowing motorists inside their premises.
Mr. Obafemi Olowore, Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, told Vanguard in a telephone chat that three vessels, namely United Enterprises, Ocean Centurion and Alizea are discharging fuel in PWA jetty, NOJ jetty and BOP jetty all belonging to MOMAN.
According to him, United Enterprise is discharging 22 million litres of fuel, Ocean Centurion is discharging 22 million litres and Alizea -- 30 million litres.
He said, "That gives you a total of 74 million litres of fuel. It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation but everything will ease out this week because we now have products.
"Some of our members would receive their product this weekend while others would receive theirs as from next week. So there is no need for panic buying, no need to hoard fuel and my contact in government has assured us that there is no plan to increase the price."
Non-renewal of contract, bunkering responsible
In addition, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, attributed the recent scarcity to the non-renewal of contracts of some independent marketers to import the product and the illegal bunkering in many cities.
The Director of DPR, Mr. George Osahon, represented by the Zonal Controller, Abuja, Aliyu Halidu at the budget defence before the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), yesterday, claimed that non-payment of subsidy fund to the marketers by government had hindered the importation of the product, resulting in shortage in supply.
According to the DPR, the resurgence of fuel queues in filling stations across the country is as a result of the failure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to renew importation contract of independent oil marketers.
Halidu stated that even though there was fuel at depots, independent marketers were not willing to lift the product as they complained that they could not break-even with the current pump price of N97 per litre.
According him, the marketers had complained that the operational cost and other incidentals had seriously eaten into the pump price, making it difficult for them to break even at the current price, adding that the problem was that of supply of petroleum products and not that of availability of fuel.
Besides, he said that the shortage in supply of the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, was equally affected by the increased activities of illegal bunkering in the country. He said that though 120 trucks were quite sufficient to meet the fuel needs of Nigerians per day, the supply had dropped to 60 trucks per day due to inability of independent marketers to import products.
He said: "We have been importing fuel through contract; some of the contracts have not been renewed. It is only the major oil marketers that are selling. The independent marketers cannot buy from the depots because of the price."
Call NNPC, marketers to order
Reacting to the development, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, yesterday described the ongoing fuel scarcity in the country as unacceptable and urged the Federal government to call the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, marketers and any other organisation involved in fuel distribution to order to avert a total shut down of the economy.
TUC in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Bobboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal, respectively, lamented the ongoing fuel scarcity and consequent re-appearance of long queues of vehicles at filling stations throughout the country for about a week now.
The TUC said, "The familiar trend of periodic scarcity of fuel is simply unacceptable. Nigeria remains about the sixth largest oil producing country in the world and 'giant of Africa' and one ordinarily expect this to translate to great fortune and comfort for the average Nigerian."
Also speaking, Mr. Uche Iheakanwa, Oil and Gas Consultant to a number of the jetty owners and oil companies, blamed the scarcity on cabals and entities that look for every opportunity to rubbish the government.
He said, "I must say that all hands must be on deck to protect this democracy as the government is truly making stringent efforts to better the quality of life for our people.
"Within the week, most of the petroleum products warehoused offshore Lome will be in our Ports, depots and Petrol filling stations. It is expected that this unnecessary strife and tension will be fully resolved."
Scarcity worsens, long queues persist
A visit to petrol stations around Alimosho Local Government, Oshodi-Isolo Local Council Development Area and some areas along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway, revealed that a number of the stations were closed down, while the few that were selling sold above the official price and also engaging in various sharp practices.
At Forte Oil petrol station at Berger Yard, along Oshodi-Apapa expressway, motorists were being made to pay N200 each, before allowed entry into the station, while at the point of purchase, motorists are made to part with another N200 by the fuel attendants. Failure to pay the fuel attendants the amount meant only 10 litres will be sold to the motorist.
Vanguard was told by residents that Mat Oil at Prince bus stop, along Ijegun Road is notorious for ripping off motorists and is presently selling the commodity at N180 per litre, cashing in on the scarcity.
Fidelity Energy Oil and Gas petrol station at Babalegba bus stop, Ijegun road, Ikotun, was closed to motorists, despite claims by the manager of the station that it has about 100,000 litres of fuel.