03 August 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board, PEF(M)B, has announced the achievement of a 48-hour claims payment to marketers for distribution of petroleum products across the country months after the launch of the electronic claims management solution termed ‘Project Aquila’ which is designed to enhance tracking of the movement of products in the downstream sector.
The original plan was to ensure payment of claims after a couple of weeks, but PEF(M)B said the 72-hour payment for claims was achieved after only a few months of operating the electronic solution platform, even as plans are already afoot for the launch of the next level of e-loading system appropriately tagged Aquila 2.
The General Manager, Corporate Services of the Board, Mr. Goddy Nnadi, who disclosed the milestone achievement to Sweetcrude in an exclusive interview in Abuja, also noted that over 200 staff of the Fund have been trained on the application of the software, while more than 500 marketers of petroleum products have also been trained in application of the e-loading technology.
Nnadi also disclosed plans by the agency to end manual loading of petroleum products at various depots across the country by the end of the year, adding that effective from January 1, 2013, all marketers are expected to fully embrace the e-loading platform.
He added that until date, more than 12,000 trucks carrying products nationwide have been tagged in the Project Aquila platform, with more being tagged everyday.
In a recent briefing to announce the launch of the project in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of PEF(M)B, Mrs. Adefunke Kasali noted that the new electronic solution would bring more transparency in the products distribution in the sector. She pointed out that one major advantage of the e-loading system is that it will enable the industry to generate accurate data on the petroleum consumption patterns across the country, a phenomenon that will greatly enhance distribution and marketing trends for the downstream sector.
According to her, “The Aquila project is expected to enhance monitoring of distribution of petroleum products and speed up the processing and payment of marketers’ claims. Project Aquila will bring about speed, efficiency, transparency and accuracy in product movement and claims settlement.
“It is outstanding in its effectiveness in determining the volume of petroleum products bridged across the country, including accruals to the marketers and transporters and also facilitate payment accordingly.”
She noted that in the past, processing of claims was done manually with the physical movement of files from one location to another causing delays which impact the marketers’ businesses adversely. “Also, the movement of petroleum products have gone unmonitored, thereby making it difficult to confirm or certify deliveries at designated depot areas.
The new solution will result in faster claims processing, faster payment of claims, transparency in processing and easy release of funds to support marketers,” Kasali stated.
The training for marketers and operators which lasted several weeks and across the six geopolitical zones of the country covered technical areas including application roles, charging of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Moble System/CN3 System and truck registration and tagging.
“Staff of the Fund and marketers were also trained on Loading Transactions Data Entry and Truck Dispatching, local National Transportation Average, and other important applications which they would encounter as the project rolls out,” Kasali explained.
According to her, ‘Project Aquila’ would be applied in improving the quality, consistency and speed of reports generated from the supply and distribution of petroleum products for both internal and external uses, as well as for forecasting and long term planning.
She explained that the new system will process claims in a computerized framework which minimizes the need for human intervention, thereby reducing delays and enhancing products distribution, availability and sale at government approved prices.
She said the inauguration of the project and its deployment would begin in May, 2011, adding that it would become operational at the fund’s 51 depots nationwide by the first quarter of 2011.
“Aquila is a Latin word for Eagle, a bird renowned for its strength, speed and swiftness,” she explained.
“The Board has also started an enlightenment programme across the nation to educate marketers and transporters on the benefit of the new system to their businesses. The implementation programme will require marketers to register their outlets, and truck owners to register all trucks used for the distribution of petroleum products,” Kasali further explained.
She pointed out that with the project in place, transporters claims will be processed on First-in-First-out (FIFO) basis and all claims documented by the system forwarded immediately for payment.
The PEFMB Chief Executive stressed that the system would eliminate wastages and encourage greater service delivery.
“Project Aquila would also bring about a reduction of human errors in processing the national transportation allowance for products bridged as well as ease tracking of transactions,” she added.
She noted that under the scheme, however, marketers and transporters would be required to register their details with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as well as provide the addresses of their retail outlets and trucks for tagging.
Kasali further explained that the software was developed in-house, saving the Fund about $2 million, which would have been spent on outsourcing the business solution.
According to Kasali, the aim of the Fund is to, overtime, become a reliable depository of information and data on the downstream such that the Federal Government would use the generated data to plan its economic policies.
“We also aim to generate funds from the system’s application. Project Aquila will give birth to a lot of new and exciting things for the industry and the nation at large” she said.
The PEFMB boss ruled out possible sabotage of the system, saying that it was developed to deny access to hackers because it had so much in-built security.
Nnadi, noted that so far, the Board had dispatched sensitization teams to all its zonal offices to explain details of the project to marketers, transporters and staff across the country.
Furthermore, the Board had organized interactive sessions in Lagos with the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigerias (DAPPMA).
Similar interactive sessions had been held in Abuja for NNPC Retail,
Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association (PTD).