BY CHIKA IZUORA
The government has assured that there would not be an increase in pump price of petrol, however the relentless long queues at fuel stations speaks volumes of what looms ahead.
The fears are not totally unfounded, for since November 2020, oil price had steadily risen from a major slump ahead of a key meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Fears of crude oil overshooting the $60 per barrel mark, it is assumed, may cause the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to increase the pump price of petrol, causing retailers to tighten sales for fear of supply scarcity.
The director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr Saraki Auwalu, said a special task force would be put in place to intensify surveillance and monitoring of all retail outlets and depots nationwide.
“From available records, there is product sufficiency in the country and there is no need for hoarding by marketers. The DPR will not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions on any outlet found wanting in this regard.”
NNPC has also clarified that there would be no price adjustment this March, even as it warned marketers and depot owners against illegal adjustment of the petrol price and hoarding of products to create artificial scarcity.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had also said previously that it would no longer be fixing the prices of petroleum products as the market would have to determine it.
The organisation’s executive secretary, Saidu Abdulkadir, had noted that marketers would be allowed to sell petrol within a price range to avoid the exploitation of customers.
But will these assurances be enough as the queues continue to build up?
The national treasurer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alamu Ayo, said in a phone Interview that the “NNPC is actually expecting the arrival of vessels with petrol but they have not berthed. Currently the Corporation is rationing the little quantity in the strategic reserve.”
He revealed that marketers cannot access products from depots, as no scheduled loading is going on in Ilorin, Ibadan, Satellite and Ejigbo in Lagos.
Ayo said that marketers at the moment buy petrol at N162 per litre, with ex-depot price, logistics and other expenses raising it to N167 before it gets to the station. The marketers in turn add all these expenses to now sell, in some cases, between N170 and N172. This is against the N148.77 per litre ex-depot price which marketers got the product previously.
Proffering a solution, Ayo called for a total deregulation of the downstream oil sector to encourage marketers to import petrol to avoid what is playing out now, which may escalate in the coming days.