AN end to the current fuel crisis may not be certain but Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday gave an indication that a new pump price will come into effect next January 2016. He said this just as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) decried the continuing nationwide fuel scarcity resulting in skyrocketing prices and long queues.
A litre of premium motor spirit (PMS) now sells for N300 in many parts of Rivers State, including Port Harcourt. In Anambra, it is about N150 for a litre.
The NLC, in a statement signed by the president, Ayuba Wabba, yesterday, described the situation as ‘disheartening.’
Speaking in Abuja yesterday during his unscheduled visit to some filling stations within the metropolis, Kachikwu explained that it was high time Nigeria took practical look at the pricing dynamics of the oil and gas downstream sector.
He, however, he was emphatic that there would be no reduction in pump price of regulated products.
“If we don’t deal with these systemic issues, these things will continue to repeat themselves; so, long term answer is simple: We have got to look at the pricing dynamics by January and see how we can sustain supply in this sort of current environment. We have to look at whether we have enough budgetary provisions to deal with these issues, but I am working very closely with the President who is in charge of the sector and takes very direct interest in the sector. But we are going to find solutions to all of these,” he said.
Kachikwu also instructed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to distribute petrol of any filling stations involved in hoarding to customers free of charge.
While marketers have insisted that they would not import product until payments are made, Kachikwu gave the assurance that payment would be made within the next two weeks, saying: “I am sure within the next one or two weeks, this will be done and the President is looking at shorter ways to get this done, and once we get the Senate’s concurrence (even if the approval for the extra budgetary allocation has not come), the President will authorise the CBN to pay the money.”
He also disclosed that he is leading talks with the Senate President who is in turn working with his team to ensure that something is done about the non-payment.
Kachikwu listed comatose pipelines as a major challenge confronting domestic supply of petroleum products just as he hinted that pumping activities are beginning to happen at the Mosimi pump station.
He added: “We also have the fact that because of the delay in the release of funds for petroleum subsidy. Many individuals are not bringing in products, and so NNPC really has been the one trying to supply products to all parts of the country. It is almost a 100 per cent scenario, as opposed to what it used to be which is about 50 per cent. I am getting all the (oil) majors to be involved and I am instructing that the majors take charge of their stations and bring in products.”
Irrespective of the explanation of the minister, there are indications that the queues for fuel that have spread to many states of the federation may not abate until marketers have been paid outstanding subsidy claims.
The Guardian learnt that while President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed that the money be paid, no concrete action has been taken by the Federal Government to ensure payment by the Ministry of Finance.
Meanwhile, the DPR said it supplied a total of 149 trucks of petrol to Abuja and environs yesterday.
DPR Abuja said the supply brought the total number of PMS-laden trucks supplied to Abuja between Monday November 16, and Tuesday, November 17, to 294 trucks.
Saidu, who said the measure was to ease off queues at filling stations in the city, recalled that 145 trucks were supplied to Abuja and its environs on Monday.
While giving the breakdown of the PMS supplied on Tuesday, he explained that 99 trucks were supplied to inside Abuja city with Forte Oil receiving four trucks, while Conoil received 10 trucks.
According to him Mobil had eight trucks, as MRS was supplied with seven trucks, while NIPCO and Oando got six and 11 trucks respectively.
He stated that Total Plc received 14 trucks, while NNPC retail was allocated 34 trucks, and IPMAN five trucks.
He said that 50 trucks were dispersed to immediate and extended environment of the capital city stressing that the immediate environment had 32 trucks, while extended environment received 18 trucks
The DPR Director, Mordecai Ladan, had earlier warned petroleum products marketers against engaging in sharp practices or face sanctions, which include a N2 million fine and licence revocation.
Ladan gave the warning while speaking against the backdrop of the purported resurgence of fuel scarcity in some parts of the country.
He said that any petroleum product marketer who engages in the act of diversion, hoarding or under-dispensing would be prosecuted and treated like an economic saboteur.
He warned petroleum products depots and filling stations owners to desist from unwholesome practices.
The Rivers State chapter of the Petroleum and Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said the scarcity would ease off when the Federal Government pays outstanding subsidies to importers of petroleum products.
Source: The Guardian