The end to petrol queues in major cities across the country may not be in sight as a recent agreement reached by key stakeholders in the downstream petroleum industry is yet to be effected by relevant government ministry.
LEADERSHIP reports that last week the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, agreed to revert to naira denominated invoices for excess capacity for coastal movement using import and export window rate for the time being.
The charges in foreign exchange was identified as major hinderance to effective participation of marketers and depot operators in products distribution resulting in scarcity of petrol in some areas of the country.
The decision was to avert escalation of queues in major cities across the country following marketers and other stakeholders’ reluctance to continue with distribution of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, commonly called petrol.
LEADERSHIP reported that the current scarcity of petrol is not about availability of petrol being assured by the NNPC.
Marketers have also said that products availability has nothing to do with the present situation citing a competent industry source who warned that the situation may likely go out of hand.
Our source said, “Product availability is not the problem; the issue is the US dollar charges on port dues of fuel vessels by NIMASA and NPA which they insist on collecting despite presidency directive to stop.
He further explained that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN offered to provide foreign exchange for their operational requirements but they didn’t accept because transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi refused to accept.
“These costs are no longer bearable to marketers hence the situation at hand. The NNPC is now charging US dollars on their vessels for which they were hitherto charging naira.
“These dollars are not available from CBN hence they’re sourced from the parallel market and the cost be borne by someone” our source said.
However, after an emergency meeting held in Lagos between the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, NIMASA, NPA, NNPC, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketing Association of Nigeria, DAPPMAN, all parties resolved to work in concert and remove all obstacles that had created hindrances to smooth and effective products distribution.
According to a communique issued at the end of the crucial meeting all parties agreed to collaborate to ensure smooth and sufficient distribution of products to all parts of the country.
The NNPC further assured of products distribution and supply and immediate reverting to naira denominated invoices.
Both NIMASA and NPA agreed to engage their supervising ministries and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to seek ways of addressing the challenges relating to payment of levies and dues in US dollars.
The NMDPRA, under the agreement would begin engagement with stakeholders on the reconciliation of bridging claims.
They however agreed that the current bridging and administrative charges shall continue to apply.
It was also agreed that marketers and Depot owners shall start charging official ex-depot price immediately.
Also, NMDPRA shall begin stakeholder engagement by first quarter of 2022 on the implementation and timelines of the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
The communique was signed by Engr. Farouk Ahmed for NMDPRA, Clement Isong for MOMAN, Yemi Adetunji for NNPC and Olufemi Adewole for DAPPMAN.
It would be recalled that depsite assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, that petrol is available findings show that current situation leading to panic buying in some parts of the country may spread before Christmas and get worse if federal government fails to interven.
The NNPC has raised serious concern following lengthening queues at petrol stations especially in the federal capital territory, FCT, Abuja and parts of the Eastern states.
Garba Deen Muhammad, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, of the Corporation, in a statement on Monday confirmed that NNPC has over 1.7 billion litres of petrol in stock and more product is expected to arrive into the country daily over the coming weeks and months.
“It is therefore unnecessary to entertain any fear of scarcity of petrol throghout the festive season and beyond.
“The NNPC is also not aware of any plan by goverment to cause an increase in the pump price of petroleum. The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has made that declaration last week” said Muhammad.
In view of these assurances, the NNPC advised motorists and other consumers of petrol to maintain their regular pattern of the purchase of petrol without getting into a panic situation that may send the wrong signals around the country.
The NNPC said it is also engaging all stakeholders to ensure smooth supply and distribution of products to every part of the country during the festive season and beyond.
However, LEADERSHIP findings shows that the NIMASA and NPA in conjunction with the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amechi and the CBN are yet to advise on what remedial action is to be taken on their US dollar invoices on port charges to fuel vessels.
Our Source said that as long as the issue remained unresolved the situation would continue to escalate and may get worse during the Yuletide.
The Source said that though the NMDPRA is co-ordinating and following up but operators would not take any positive action until they receive feedback from them.