Motorists in Lagos and Ogun states are going through hard times to buy petrol as many stations yesterday shut down operations, heightening speculation of possible hike in pump price.
LEADERSHIP had yesterday reported that supplies had dropped significantly as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, which currently is the sole importer of products, may have reverted to the crude swap initiative to sustain distribution of petrol that had since May this year been disrupted after President Bola Tinubu announced the removal of subsidy.
LEADERSHIP learnt that falling back on the swap option was in response to depleting supplies following the inability of the Company to sustain products import as foreign exchange scarcity heightens.
Recall that in furtherance of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) had announced that it had issued petrol import licences to 56 oil marketing companies.
Chief executive officer of NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, who had disclosed this during a stakeholder engagement session with petroleum marketers in Lagos, said that 10 of the 56 firms had shown commitment to supply products from July to September 2023.
At the meeting attended by marketers belonging to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria ( DAPPMAN) as well as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Ahmed said the purpose was to encourage the marketers to come into the market.
However, this development has not offered any reprieve as foreign exchange rate has kept increasing and the government has refused to keep upward price adjustment as requested by markers.
The situation was further exacerbated by rising crude oil prices in the international market.
Consequently, the marketers backed out of the bargain earlier agreed with NMDPRA.
Signs of looming scarcity were noticed in parts of Lagos on Monday when motorists queued longer at filling stations.
At TotalEnergies filling station along Mobolaji Bank Anthony way, Ikeja, a long queue emerged during midday extending traffic close to Maryland.
Although some stations were open to motorists many were not using all the pumps.
As of yesterday, the situation had gone out of control in many parts of Lagos.
An attendant at MRS station at Ojota, according to a motorist, announced after shutting the pumps that they had information that a new pump price was likely going to be announced today (Wednesday).
Elsewhere, most stations have difficulty controlling long queues.
But responding to a LEADERSHIP enquiry yesterday, Mrs Iyabode Ayobami-Ojo, the most senior officer in the Corporate Communications department of NNPC, said tersely: “NNPC Limited is committed to ensuring energy security in the country and has not stopped the importation of fuel.”
The president of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, also maintained that members of his group were still receiving products from NNPCL Retail Company.
But our source said that the Company is yet to obtain forex facility from Afreximbank which is affecting its importation.
Our source said that the Company is presently hard hit with dollar scarcity while marketers remain adamant to import.