Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, has risen to as high as N200/litre at depots, implying that motorists should brace themselves to pay more than N200/litre for PMS at filling stations.
On Monday, it was learned that private depot owners had raised PMS prices, which had recently ranged from N178 to N185/litre, due to a drop in supply by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, among other operational concerns.
This came as both the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Petroleum Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria informed our correspondent that tankers were now spending more than a week waiting in petrol queues at depots.
This, they claimed, had resulted in empty filling stations across the country, causing chaos among motorists on Monday at some of the few outlets dispensing petrol in Abuja, Nasarawa, Niger, and neighboring states.
Abubakar Maigandi, National Vice President of IPMAN, confirmed the NNPC supply cut and the increase in the ex-depot price of petrol at depots in Lagos and Warri, Delta State.
For several years, NNPC has been Nigeria’s sole importer of gasoline. Other marketers halted petrol imports due to their inability to obtain foreign currency without difficulty.
“First and foremost, as a result of the flooded roads, most filling stations’ products became depleted.” Then we noticed that there isn’t enough product availability because most of our trucks are stuck in various depots,” Maigandi explained.
“This is because there is not enough supply of products from the NNPC,” he added. These are the difficulties we have encountered. Your truck will go there and wait in line for more than a week.
“And you know that when a truck sits in a queue for a week without loading, it causes a serious problem in terms of availability.” Again, because independent marketers rely on private depot owners for products, when we go to buy, they sell to us at nearly N200/litre.
“In Lagos and Warri depots, they now sell between N190 and N200 per litre.” You can now imagine the cost of filling up at a gas station. People should be prepared to pay more than N200 per litre if this situation persists.”
In response to the question of whether the NNPC was providing any explanation, Maigandi stated that the national oil firm now described itself as a player in the business following its July conversion to a limited liability company.
“Since their conversion to a limited liability company, when we raise some of our concerns with them, they tell us that they are just marketers like us,” he explained.
The IPMAN vice chairman stated that the situation had exacerbated the sufferings of the masses and oil marketers, emphasizing that the solution was not only to de-regulate the downstream oil sector but also to restart Nigeria’s refineries.
“Deregulation alone will not solve the problem because we do not have an excess of the refined commodity.” And if they de-regulate, the price of petrol could rise above N500 per litre,” Maigandi warned.
“This is because the dollar is now worth about N900 on the parallel market,” he added. As a result, if they de-regulate, marketers will be forced to rely on the parallel market to obtain dollars for petrol imports.
“So, if the dollar is N900, you can only imagine the cost of importing PMS.” As a result, I’ll say that the way forward is to basically get our refineries in order. That is the only significant way. What you don’t have, you can’t deregulate. If you do that, you will cause a lot of trouble.”
PETROAN President Billy Gillis-Harry confirmed that his team had traveled across the country and discovered that most depots had limited products to dispense.
He stated, “The reality is that there are no products.”
“There are no products to lift in many states,” the oil marketers president added, “and once there are no products to lift, you’ll have scarcity.” As the sole supplier, the NNPC must act quickly.”
Gillis-Harry also called for the immediate rehabilitation of Nigeria’s refineries, emphasizing that marketers had repeatedly asked the government to include PETROAN in the process.
“We have stated repeatedly that we cannot continue to import gasoline.” It is neither sustainable nor healthy for the limited funds at our disposal. “We need to get our refineries up and running, and marketers are always willing to help the government with this,” he said.
Clement Isong, Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, previously stated that MOMAN had been advocating for the deregulation of the downstream oil sector and the rehabilitation of refineries.
“Of course, we want our refineries to restart,” he said. It is critical to ensure that people have access to fuel at filling stations. This is why we continue to say, ‘deregulate and make life easier for everyone.’
“This is due to the difficulty of delivering gasoline to customers on the street.” It’s difficult, and many people are unaware of and may not appreciate it.”
Also speaking, Mohammed Shuaibu, Secretary, Abuja-Suleja IPMAN, stated that the current challenges of poor distribution and supply shortage of petrol may result in widespread queues for PMS during the festive season in December.
“Our concern as marketers is that the festive month is approaching, and if nothing is done quickly to address the current supply concerns, I am afraid that it will escalate during the festivities, because it has already begun,” he said.
Shuaibu described the situation as dire, emphasizing that it was the government’s responsibility to address it through the NNPC.
“We are in a very precarious situation,” he said, “and we hope it does not escalate beyond this.” But, as you know, none of the four refineries are productive, so the government must wake up to its responsibilities. They are largely obsolete.
“We also have 21 depots throughout the country, with nine in the north and 12 in the south.” However, these depots, which are supposed to be storage facilities, are not productive because the pipelines that supply them with products are old or vandalized.
“As a result, the only way to get petroleum products into Nigeria today is to import them.” Only NNPC does this, and when it imports the product, it dumps it in private depots. “Who is now in charge of the products?”
“But right now, the private depots have raised the price of products,” Shuaibu added. This is making everyone nervous. Those who paid the government-approved price would awaken to find that they could no longer purchase goods.
“We also have a supply shortage.” As the sole importer of the product, the government must wake up and do the right thing. It would not be like this if the refineries were operational.”
The IPMAN official also stated that the supply chain was inadequate, and that recent floods posed a challenge because roads between Lokoja and Abuja were flooded.
He did, however, state that the water had receded and that “we still have scarcity.”
“As it stands now, all of Northern Nigeria has been affected, and the depots that are supposed to be storage facilities do not have products,” Shuaibu explained. Everyone now relies on going south to bring in goods.
“And you’re not even sure you’ll get it if you go there.” Due to Nigeria’s poor road network, some trucks spend weeks on the road before arriving at their destinations.”
He claimed that many independent marketers’ retail outlets had closed due to a lack of products to sell, giving rise to the activities of black marketers of gasoline.
“Many gas stations have closed.” These stores were designed to sell petroleum products, but what happens when you don’t have any? “This is why you see black marketers selling gasoline in jerry cans all over,” Shuaibu explained.
Despite the massive queues that had repeatedly greeted the Conoil and Total filling stations located directly opposite the company’s headquarters in Abuja, NNPC remained silent when contacted to comment on the matter.
Its spokesperson, Garba-Deen Muhammad, did not return phone calls and did not respond to a text message about the incident.