Despite what seems like its best efforts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to end the protracted petrol scarcity in the country, the fuel supply situation may worsen as the price has hit N165 per litre at the depots, against the official price of N133.28, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
This is coming as two petrol vessels imported by the NNPC discharged simultaneously in Lagos at the weekend.
Petrol scarcity, which had marred the Christmas and New Year celebrations, has persisted despite the efforts of the NNPC to successfully perform the onerous task of meeting the country’s fuel need, following the refusal of the private marketers to import on account of unsustainability of the official pricing regime.
A market survey conducted by THISDAY showed that only seven out of over 30 depots had stock of petrol at the weekend.
The depots include Folawiyo, Fatgbems, Aiteo, Bovas, Heyden, Rainoil/First Royal and NIPCO.
However, the major marketers had stock of NNPC’s petrol, which the corporation was dispensing to only the major marketers’ dealers and their branded filling stations at official price.
It was gathered that the petrol in these depots belong to the NNPC under throughput arrangement with these depot owners.
Worried that the petrol it imported and allocated to marketers did not get to retail outlets and motorists at official price, the NNPC had since stopped allocating product to marketers and resorted to throughput arrangement with selected marketing firms to have affective control of supply and distribution.
The Niger State Command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) recently apprehended eight trucks of petrol in Mokwa, Niger State.
The trucks had a combined capacity of 469,000 litres and were set on cross-border diversion to the Republic of Benin through Babana, a border town of about 700 kilometres from Minna.
The diversion of trucks it allocated to marketers had forced the NNPC to concentrate on direct sale to trucks under throughput arrangement to monitor distribution.
THISDAY, however, gathered that marketers that bought NNPC tickets direct from the corporation to lift these products were selling these tickets to third party at price range of N165 per litre and N157 per litre.
Marketers who spoke to THISDAY blamed the high ex-depot price on adequate supply.
“We said it that NNPC can’t do it alone. NNPC can’t sustain supply, no matter, the number of ships they bring in. Under normal situation, NNPC accounts for 40 per cent of importation and the private marketers account for 60 per cent. For NNPC to assume 100 per cent role since October last year will not be sustainable. It has overstretched the NNPC and the result was what we saw during Christmas and what we are still seeing today. NNPC can’t simply sustain supply,” said one of the marketers.
However, to address the challenges, two vessels imported by the NNPC discharged simultaneously in Apapa at the weekend.
THISDAY gathered that while one vessel was discharging at NOJ jetty, the second vessel was discharging at PWA jetty, also at Apapa.