11 March 2014, Lagos – As the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and some private Oil Marketing and Trading (OM & T) companies intensify efforts to import more petrol cargoes to ease the nationwide scarcity, most of the filling stations have continued to engage in profiteering, thereby shortchanging customers, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered that when the crisis started, the ex-depot price soared to between N95 and N101 per litre, against the official price of N87.66.
Investigations revealed that the situation forced operators of the retail outlets to adjust their meters by 25 per cent though still reading at normal price of N97 per litre.
With such adjustment, motorists who buy four litres will have only three litres because while the meter is reading correctly, it is not dispensing the correct quantity of products.
However, as fuel supply improves, most of the filling stations are yet to re-adjust their meters to normal.
“There is no way someone can buy products at about 95 or N101 at the depots and sell N97 at the filling stations. So, those selling at normal price adjusted their meters by as much as 25per cent. It means that when you buy four litres from stations that sell at normal price, the actual quantity in your tank is just three litres. Any marketer, who doesn’t do that will have to sell above the normal price to break even,” said one of the marketers.
The Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), which comprises of Conoil, Forte Oil, MRS, Mobil Oil, Total, NIPCO, and Oando Plc, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, however, told THISDAY that the major marketers were not involved in profiteering and other forms of malpractices.
He stated that fuel supply had improved drastically and assured that the scarcity would ease in the next few days.
“Four more vessels will come into the country later this week. If you call me on Monday, I will give you their names,” he said.
However, despite the improvement in supply in recent days, most filling stations are yet to re-adjust their meters to dispense the correct quantity of products to customers.
Some of the marketers told THISDAY that some of them, who benefitted from the scarcity situation, would want the crisis to continue.
“Some people are making money from the crisis and they want it to continue. You make more money when you buy at higher price and adjust your pump and sell at normal price than when you buy at official price and dispense the correct quantity at normal price,” said one of the marketers.
Speaking during an unscheduled inspection of some filling stations in Lagos at the weekend, the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, accused the marketers of diverting Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or petrol for other uses.
– Ejiofor Alike, This Day