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Petrol black marketers surface in Abuja, supply drop continues

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The irregularities in the supply of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, took another turn on Sunday as black marketers of the commodity surfaced on roads in the Federal Capital Territory.

Oil marketers stated that concerns in the downstream arm of the sector had yet to be addressed despite clamours by operators, maintaining that petrol price would go up if the issues were left unattended.

But the government, through its Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority insisted that it would not allow a hike in the cost of PMS regardless of the concerns raised by marketers.

Our correspondent observed that many petrol stations were shut on Sunday along the popular Kubwa-Zuba Expressway in Abuja, while black marketers were seen in front of some of the outlets selling petrol in jerry cans.

Black marketers sold the commodity, for instance, in front of Eterna and Oando filling stations located around the Dutse junction on the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway.

“We said it that there is supply drop which is why you are observing irregularities, especially the appearance of those selling in jerry cans and queues in some areas,” the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told our correspondent on Sunday when asked to speak on the emergence of black marketers of petrol.

He added, “The concerns in the downstream have made private depots to sell at N159/litre instead of N148/litre and this will warrant an increase in pump price above N165/litre if the matter is not addressed.”

Depot owners had explained that the rising cost of petrol was because the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had yet to revert to naira-denominated invoices for excess capacity for coastal movement using the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Import and Export Window rate as agreed by stakeholders recently.

But the Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure, NMDPRA, Ogbogu Ukoha, insisted that the government was addressing the challenges raised by marketers.

Ukoha, as well as the Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe, spoke to journalists on the sidelines of the maiden edition of the Petroleum Industry Regulators 1st Invitational Golf Tournament organised by NUPRC and NMDPRA in Abuja.

Reacting to the statement by marketers that petrol might increase to N170/litre soon, Ukoha said, “There will be no increase in the pump price, not in the near future.

“People will be travelling now and so you don’t increase pump price arbitrarily like that. So the pump price will be maintained.”

On concerns by depot owners, he admitted that there were issues that should be resolved and noted that the government was tackling the challenges.

“Yes there are issues.  Two weeks, for the first time, we had every major player under the same roof. They raised the issues, the issues were addressed as much as we could and we all left with happy faces and handshakes,” Ukoha stated.

He added, “And even on the dollar payment issue, the NNPC conceded to take freight in naira. This is because as we know the dollar issue is critical. So I will like to assure everybody that there will be no pump price increase.”

The downstream regulator stressed that as the issues arise, the management of the authority would keep addressing them.

He, however, opposed the position of depot owners on the agreement reached at the meeting, arguing that it was being implemented from day one.

Ukoha said, “There is a lot of speculation within the industry and we’ve been trying to put out the right information. We should focus on the issues and address them. There will be no increase in the pump price of petrol in the near term.”

FG moves to tackle PMS shortage, rising prices

Meanwhile, the Federal Government through its Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority is to continue the implementation the petroleum bridging programme to ensure the availability of the product.

The Chief Executive Officer, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, disclosed this in Abuja on Sunday and explained that the authority would also offset all the bridging verified claims of stakeholders in the distribution of Premium Motor Spirit across the country.

The bridging claims are paid to PMS distributors to ensure a uniform pump price of petroleum products nationwide and the bridging cost is built into the pump price of petrol.

Ahmed in a statement he issued in Abuja, assured petroleum tanker drivers and other stakeholders of the authority’s determination to continue the payment of bridging rate to ensure effective distribution of products.

He also said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had stopped charging in dollars for their shipping services.

Ahmed, however, noted that both the Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency were expected to also begin to charge for their services in naira very soon.

He said the two agencies of government had started engaging the Federal Ministry of Transportation to get the necessary approval.

The NMDPRA boss urged indebted marketers that collect bridging levies as provided for in the pricing template to remit such deductions to enable the authority pay outstanding claims.

 

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