14 October 2015, Lagos – Oil marketers have given three conditions for continued supply and distribution of petroleum products, as shortages crept in once again with fuel queues noticeable in some parts of Abuja, Lagos and other cities nationwide.
The conditions are that Federal Government pay outstanding subsidy claims by month end, intervene for the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to release foreign exchange to marketers and intervene with commercial banks to grant credit lines to marketers.
Vanguard gathered the conditions were part of the agreements reached yesterday at a crucial meeting in Abuja, with the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
According to a dependable source, “NNPC simply told the public their own side of the story, without reflecting our own concerns.
“We (marketers— majors, independents and depot operators) met with NNPC management, and we made it clear to the Group Managing Director, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu that nobody has money to import anymore.
“We agreed that marketers will continue to do their best to ensure that products are available, but there is little we can do without money to bring in the products.”
Told that supply had been relatively stable in the last four months, the source said supply came mainly from NNPC.
The source said: “The refineries are bringing in something, NNPC is also importing, while marketers are bringing in only very little because of financial difficulties.”
He insisted that the resurgence of queues less than 24 hours after the agreements to ensure products availability was not sabotage, saying that it was only a matter of time before supplies tightened since marketers were hardly importing.
Effect of CBN policy
Another source, who attended the meeting, hinted that “Kachikwu promised that government will pay us, at least, 50 percent of the outstanding subsidy claims by the end of the month, or before the end of the second week in December.”
He said that marketers’ problems were compounded by the new CBN foreign exchange transaction policy.
According to him, “there are no bank facilities because credit lines are not being raised for marketers. But that is not the worse; right now, even those paying in Naira component for previous import cannot get dollar to pay their foreign suppliers.
“Imagine a situation where you have to pay about $18 million for 33,000 metric tonnes. Where will the money come from? CBN said no dollar cash payment except by wired transfer, and we have written many times to CBN, PPPRA, DPR without results.
“Also, when you bring in your product, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, issues you certificate, which you use in processing your claims. But these transactions are all paid for in dollars, so we are stuck.”
He also disclosed that the prolonged situation had attracted some consequences as “some of our members have started laying off staff, thus compounding the already bad unemployment situation.
“Those who are not laying off have started defaulting in salaries.”
Against this backdrop, he urged government to act urgently before the situation got worse.
NNPC raises concerns
NNPC in a statement yesterday, said the meeting was with a view to “ensuring zero fuel queues throughout the country ahead of the forthcoming yuletide and beyond.”
It said the meeting was between Kachikwu and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and Depot and Petroleum Products Association, DAPPMA, at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.
Kachikwu was quoted as saying the issue of uninterrupted supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country was of utmost importance to the present administration.
He added that government was willing to do everything possible to ensure that members of the public do not go through any form of hardship in accessing petroleum products, particularly premium motor spirit, PMS, also known as petrol.
The NNPC boss had also “promised to work with other relevant Federal Government agencies to fast track the payment of the outstanding numbers, promising in the interim to arrange for a meeting with the relevant creditors (bankers) to ease off pressure on marketers and extend the credit lines.”
Assures of over 927 million litres
Meanwhile, NNPC, yesterday, cautioned Nigerians against panic buying of petrol, saying it had about 23 days of product supply across the country.
NNPC, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said its depots had about 927.461 million litres of PMS.
He said they were enough to serve the country for the next 23 days even if no drop of the product was imported.
NNPC blamed the resurgence of queues at petrol filling stations on rumours of an impending scarcity, and assured that it had enough products to meet the demand of the country.
It warned marketers against sharp practices, stating that anyone found wanting would be dealt with, as there was a team at Pipeline and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, to monitor the distribution and supply system.