20 December 2015, Lagos – The scarcity of petrol in major cities across the country has lingered despite repeated claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that it has enough stock to keep the country wet, particularly during the yuletide.
In its latest Energy in Brief report for the month of December 2015, the NNPC stated that it supplied over 1.4 billion litres of the Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, to the domestic market in the past few weeks in its drive to ensure the availability of the product for the end of the year activities/movements.
But despite the national oil firm’s claim, the scarcity of petrol in many cities has not abated. For instance, in Abuja and the neighbouring states of Kaduna and Nasarawa, it is now a regular occurrence to see hundreds of motorists in long queues in front of few petrol stations that dispense the product.
This is coming as major oil marketers in the country told our correspondent that they had placed orders for petrol and that about 158 million litres of the product had arrived Nigeria in a bid to address the scarcity.
The NNPC, in its report, also stated that it had made 1.4 billion litres of petrol available to wet the market in November, December and beyond.
It said, “Our commitment to guarantee product supply and availability throughout the ‘ember’ months and beyond remained unflinchingly strong. To this end, we have over the past few weeks supplied 1.4 billion litres of petroleum products to the domestic market.
“We have rolled out a strategy for every one of our 513 NNPC retail outlets nationwide to have products at all times. Most mega stations will adopt a 24 hours operation model where the security situation allows. In locations where that cannot be met, our stations are going to have extended hours of operation starting from 5am to about 10pm daily.”
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, told our correspondent on Friday that members of the group had started placing orders for petrol after the marketers had been paid their subsidy claims.
He stated sufficient petrol was being discharged at the Lagos port, adding that more product was expected in the country in the new week.
Olawore said, “We have placed orders and they have started arriving. Currently, 78 million litres by two major marketers are being discharged while a third major is bringing 80.5 million litres this weekend. More fuel will come in next week.”
Before the subsidy claims by oil marketers were settled by the Federal Government, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had stated that the fuel scarcity problem had been intensified by the refusal of marketers to import products.
Kachikwu, who doubles as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, explained that the corporation had served as a frontline importer of the PMS in the past two months, a development that was not in conformity with its original design and mandate.
He said a lot of people depended on the NNPC to be the first line of supply in the downstream oil sector, but stressed that the oil firm was not set up to serve that purpose.
The minister said, “We are supposed to be the last line of resort. Over the last two months, we have supplied close to 90 per cent of the products you see. And that’s part of the reasons why you see the crisis that we experience, because our system wasn’t really structured for that. But we are working on it to get it better by the day.”