Fuel scarcity worsens as marketers rely on NNPC

Following the refusal by banks to fund the importation of fuel products on account of unpaid subsidy claims by the federal government, fuel scarcity in the country took a turn for the worse on Monday as virtually all private marketers turned to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for products.

As fuel scarcity bit harder, long queues were evident at retail outlets in Lagos, Abuja and other cities in the country, with some petrol stations in Abuja selling fuel at N120 per litre.

However, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) has cautioned against panic buying, promising that supply would improve once the federal government pays outstanding subsidy claims this week.

Owing to the shortfall, it was gathered that NNPC has increased the volume of imports, with three imported cargoes conveying products to the three jetties in Apapa, which receive over 50 per cent of imported products in the country.

Investigations revealed that at the North Oil Jetty (NOJ) – one of the Apapa jetties – a vessel, TORM FREYA, brought in by NNPC yesterday discharged 23 million litres of petrol to the NIPCO and Aiteo tank farms.

Under normal circumstances, NOJ is dedicated to imported liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), kerosene and base oils.

But a source at the jetty told ThisDay that due to the prevailing emergency, they had to flush the line to avoid contamination, so that PMS vessels could discharge.

As TORM FREYA was discharging, a second vessel imported by NNPC, TORM NILY, was also waiting to berth at the Bulk Oil Jetty also in Apapa, to discharge to major marketers.

It was also learnt that a third NNPC vessel, MT BADE, arrived yesterday at the Petroleum Wharf Apapa (PWA).

The vessel will discharge products to Oando, Total and other marketers with tank farms in the area.

Other jetties are at the Folawiyo depot and in the Ibafo area, and have received imported products for MRS and Capital Oil. However, all the available products in the said jetties, it was learnt, belong to NNPC.

Some of the marketers confirmed that only NNPC was importing products, thus tightening the fuel supply situation.

They blamed the current scarcity on the failure of government to pay the outstanding N264 billion subsidy claims.

The marketers also stated that the banks had refused to give them credit facilities because of their unpaid loans which would have been offset if government had paid their claims.

Though the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, met with the marketers in Lagos last week and promised to pay the claims before the end of this month, the marketers had warned that it would take weeks for the supply situation to normalise.

Credit: ThisDay