24 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – In the face of the latest fuel scarcity rocking many parts of the country, private oil marketers are calling for government intervention to enable them to access foreign exchange at a special rate for the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
According to them, selling the product at N145 per litre is no longer feasible with the current exchange rate.
Private marketers stopped fuel importation last year due to shortage of foreign exchange and increase in crude prices, which they said had made it unprofitable to import petrol and sell same at N145 per litre.
The National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said, “The problem is that the importation (of petrol) is being handled almost 100 per cent by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as private importers have backed out because the increase in crude price has made the landing cost enter subsidy.
“When the crude price hit $59 per barrel, we could not sell petrol again at N145 per litre if we were importing on our own. It is only the government (NNPC) that is importing and can warehouse the subsidy.”
He said the government through the Central Bank of Nigeria should have intervened by providing foreign exchange at a special rate solely for the PMS importation for both the NNPC and private importers.
Osatuyi said, “Right now, the landing cost of the PMS is N154. If you are importing at N305 to the dollar, by the time you add bank charges, it comes to N307 to the dollar. If you apply that to the current crude price, the landing cost is N154-N155. By the time you add all the margins, the pump price is about N160-N167.
“Before private importers can resume importation, the exchange rate to a dollar must be N250 and we can sell at the price of N145 per litre.”
Meanwhile, major oil marketers have announced that they have commenced the loading of about 66 million litres of petrol, from their various depots in Lagos for onward distribution to all parts of the country.
It was gathered that the loading would continue until Christmas Day and that queues by motorists at filling stations would disappear within the next one week.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore, said that the products being loaded at the depots in Lagos were imported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
He stated that it was wrong for the NNPC and other regulatory bodies to allege that marketers were hoarding and diverting petrol. He noted that the commodity was grossly in short supply before Saturday.
Olawore said, “It is correct that loading of products is ongoing at some depots. What I don’t want to hear is when they say (we are) hoarding, because we don’t have products to hoard. But now they are giving us products and we are loading. We will load even on Christmas Day.”
MOMAN comprises major oil dealers such as Total, Forte Oil, Oando, MRS, among others.
He said, “Currently we are taking delivery of 27 million litres, to be followed by another 39 million litres. And nobody is increasing the pump price of petrol. Nobody is also contemplating that. What PENGASSAN (Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria) said was wrong.
“Tell them (PENGASSAN) that you spoke with me and that the statement is wrong. Nobody is contemplating price increase. The problem is that there was shortage of supply but currently, the NNPC is bringing in vessels and we are working with them collaboratively and we are trucking out. We hope that very soon the situation will be brought to normal.”
Commenting on the forex challenge, Mr. Olawore said, “I am told that some people have special rates. If they do, fine; let them give to us also. We will prefer a situation where we have access to forex exchange and we can import.”
The NNPC also announced on Saturday that it had intensified efforts to supply the market with petrol and other products.
It stated that six major marketers were loading products round the clock from their various depots in Lagos for onward delivery to all parts of the country.
It said the supplies were mostly from cargoes of PMS imported by the NNPC which were berthing daily and were being made to discharge their products immediately to address supply hiccups.
“Marketers are strongly advised against hoarding products as security agencies, working with industry regulators, would mete out appropriate sanctions to defaulters,” the corporation said in a statement on Saturday.
This is coming as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) declared on Saturday that depot owners who divert products or sell above the regulated ex-depot price would pay up to N20m as fine.