Nigeria: NNPC Cautions Against Panic Buying As Fuel Queues Return

11 November 2020

Abuja and Lagos — The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday dismissed speculations of possible scarcity of petroleum products following the ongoing disagreement between the federal government and members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN).

This is coming as the President of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Mr. Alex Tarka, has stated that the commerciality of the oil discovery in the Benue trough, one of the frontier basins in the country, is no longer in doubt.

PENGASSAN is at loggerheads with the federal government over the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), among other issues.

Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Dr. Kennie Obateru, quoted the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, as saying in a statement in Abuja that the industrial action embarked upon by PENGASSAN would not lead to scarcity of petroleum products.

He stated that all fuel stations and petrol depots have enough stock of products to service consumers and are open for business.

While expressing hope that the industrial dispute would be settled amicably, Kyari assured Nigerians that the corporation currently has a stock of over 2.9 billion litres of petrol to meet demands, especially during the Yuletide.

According to him, the corporation is determined to make the 2020 end-of-year festivities free of fuel queues.

He noted that critical stakeholders in the petroleum products supply and distribution chain such as tanker drivers, depot owners and road transport owners have been mobilised to ensure a hitch-free season.

PENGASSAN had embarked on a three-day nationwide warning strike in June to protest what it described as members' forcible enrolment into the "defective" IPPIS payment platform.

The oil industry workers said the strike was pursuant to the demands concerning their members working in federal government agencies, whose salaries were withheld since May, over alleged non-compliance with the federal government's directive to all its agencies to enrol on the IPPIS payment platform.

Meanwhile, the President of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Mr. Alex Tarka, has stated that the commerciality of the oil discovery in the Benue trough, one of the frontier basins in the country, is no longer in doubt.

Responding to questions yesterday during a virtual press briefing ahead of NAPE's conference themed: "Accelerating Growth in Nigeria's Hydrocarbon Reserves: Emerging Concepts, Challenges and Opportunities," Tarka said exploration was still going on at the Benue trough.

He said the volumes of the reserve discovered in that axis had been in the public domain as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and Kyari had announced the volumes of oil discovered.

Tarka said: "The volumes of what has been seen like the GMD said even yesterday (Monday) in our discussion is already in the public domain. It is a commercial discovery. We don't need to bother so much about volumes at this stage because exploration is still ongoing.

"The second well is being drilled. So, the important thing for this meeting is that NNPC's geoscientists, which I am a part, have made a commercial discovery in the Benue trough and the testing results have shown that it is commercial.

"The minister (of state for petroleum) has made the announcement since February when I was at NIPS (Nigerian International Petroleum Summit) in Abuja.

"So, the commerciality of the Benue trough is no longer in doubt. That's why drilling is going to be sustained because NNPC is a responsible operating arm of the government that the government depends on to sustain the economy of the nation."

According to him, the exploration campaign will be sustained and until it gets to the level of development, nobody can discuss the production.

The NAPE president explained that reserves needed to be discovered to be in commercial quantity, adding: "That should give us comfort as reporters that for the first time in a long while, we now have a commercial discovery in the frontier of Nigeria within the Benue trough."

Tarka added that the NNPC was deploying modern technologies in exploring for oil at the Benue Trough.

"So, for the drilling campaign going on currently, a lot of technologies were deployed: fibre optic machines, best of its kind across the world were deployed. Things like surface geochemistry, so many advanced technologies.

"And then, all that, plus seismic, the best of seismic, all were integrated, both conventional and non-conventional. It's for each of the technologies to be able to tell you and reconfirm and de-risk as much as possible prior to even moving a rig," he stated.

Earlier, the NAPE president had described technology as the heart of all the significant achievements in the oil and gas industry.

According to him, the way hydrocarbon is discovered, developed and produced has been impacted by evolutionary technologies that have emerged since the Drake well of 1859.

He said the challenge, however, was how far Nigeria has travelled down the technology road, stressing that it was against that backdrop that the conference would be deliberating on the petroleum business and the regulatory environment.

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