Fuel scarcity deepens, despite NNPC assurances, warnings

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

15 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – Transporters in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and its environs continue to face a hard time as many filling stations in the city refuse to open for business.

This is in spite of assurances coming from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, that it has abundant stock of petroleum products to last through the Yuletide season and into the New Year.

Ahead of the forthcoming Christmas festivity and the envisaged heavy movement of people for the holidays, the NNPC, said it has stepped up fuel supply to the Federal Capital Territory and across the nation to meet up demands.

It has further warned Nigerians against panic buying, noting that it has abundant petroleum products to go round the country without any fear of shortage throughout the period of festivity.

The Corporation’s position is coming even as many filling stations across the Federal Capital Territory and environs were seen shut down, and queues emerging at different points in the city.

The Group General Manager Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr Levi Ajuonuma, has cautioned against the growing incidence of panic buying and indiscriminate hoarding of petroleum products by some Nigerians in anticipation of the planned removal of subsidy on premium motor spirit (pms) by the Federal Government.

He explained that the observed panic-induced fuel queues in Abuja have nothing to do with shortage in supply of petroleum products and that marketers and private depot owners are being adequately supplied with products.

“As at today, the PPMC has stepped up supply of products to Abuja and environs from the normal 150 trucks per day to 224 trucks. This situation will be sustained from now through the period of Christmas and New Year festivities till January. I can assure you there is no shortage of PMS or any other petroleum product now or in the foreseeable future as the PPMC has a 54-day fuel sufficiency in strategic reserve”, Dr Ajuonuma stated.

The NNPC spokesman warned fuel station owners and private depot owners to shun any activity that could breach the effective supply and dispensing of products to members of the public, adding that anyone caught hoarding products or not dispensing products from all its pumps will be appropriately sanctioned.

Dr Ajuonuma said NNPC was working in concert with other relevant agencies to ensure that petroleum products get to the end users at approved prices.

He urged members of the public to desist from panic buying as there are enough products to go round even at the peak of demand as envisaged in the upcoming end of year festive season.

He called on stakeholders to avoid speculating on deregulation as government will make a pronouncement on it as and when due.

Ajuonuma also blamed the emerging fuel queues noticeable in the Federal Capital Territory and some Cities in the country on the unfortunate rush by some marketers and consumers to mop-up enough products in anticipation of the envisaged take-off of the deregulation exercise which they believe will commence with Tuesday’s budget presentation by Mr. President.

“From the stand point of supply and distribution of petroleum products, we are positive that there is no need for anybody to indulge in any form of hoarding and amassing of petroleum products because nothing has changed about our adequate stock levels. Even from the Health, Safety and Environment point of view, it is extremely dangerous to store products at home especially in this period of dry wind and harmattan,’’ Ajuonuma stated.

The NNPC Spokesman also quoted, Prince Haruna Momoh, Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a subsidiary of the Corporation, as saying that the PPMC has stepped up supply level especially in the Northern part of the country to counter any envisaged gap induced by the panic buying while working closing with the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR to ensure compliance and zero manipulation of the situation at the pumps.

“We have since conducted field checks across the country and the result indicates that we have over 42 days sufficiency for PMS. Currently Warri and Port Harcourt Refineries are doing well and in the days ahead repair work on the damaged Kaduna Refinery crude supply pipeline at Egwa village in Delta State will be complete and Kaduna Refinery is expected to re-stream for operation,’’ Prince Momoh informed.

The PPMC helmsman reiterated that the Company is determined to ensure that Nigerians do not go through any form of hardship in accessing petroleum products throughout the yuletide season and beyond.

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