06 March 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that the activities of the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Navy at the ports are responsible for the shortfall in fuel supply leading to the emergence of queues at fuel stations in some cities across the country especially in the Lagos area.
The Group General Manager Public Affairs of the Corporation, Dr Levi Ajuonuma, who spoke at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, explained that many products-laden vessels which ought to have discharged have been detained at the Apapa Port for three weeks by the Customs and Navy thereby causing a hitch in the product supply system.
He said, “As you are well aware, we are still importing petroleum products, but the challenge right now is that a number of the vessels bringing products have been detained by the Customs and the Navy so they could not discharge.
“But the most worrisome aspect of this development is that they are detained at the berthing point such that other vessels with petroleum products are deprived from berthing and discharging thereby creating an armada while what we have in strategic reserve is depleting,” Dr Ajuonuma explained.
On why the vessels were detained, he explained that one of the ships detained by the Customs was alleged to have contravened the rule three years ago when it brought petroleum products into the country without a temporary import permit.
The NNPC spokesman clarified that though the Corporation was not against the Customs and the Navy carrying out their duties, they should do so without impeding the discharge of products.
“We are not saying that they should not detain vessels that contravene our laws, what we are saying is that they should not arrest and detain the vessels at the berthing or discharging point so as not to block other ships from discharging thereby cutting off supplies,” he advised.
He said the management of NNPC and its subsidiary, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) are engaging the relevant agencies to resolve the issues as soon as possible.
In the meantime, he urged Nigerians to shun panic buying as the Corporation still has in its stock enough petrol and kerosene to last the entire country for 24 and 22 days respectively.