Hike rates

Fuel shortage: private depots raise fares, more petrol stations can sell above N180/litre

The cost of Premium Motor Spirit, commonly known as petrol, could rise to or exceed N180/litre at most petrol stations over the next few weeks if left unchecked against a recent hike in its ex depot price by car owners. private deposits.

It has been found that most of the private depot owners have recently increased the cost of petrol from the approved price N142-N145/litre to between N162-N170/litre.

This, oil traders said, had already caused some service stations owned by independent traders to start dispensing petrol at N180/litre, above the approved and regulated pump price of N165/litre. liter.

But the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Nigeria’s sole importer of gasoline, said it was unaware of the price hike by owners of private depots.

In addition, the sector regulator, Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, has asked independent traders to lodge a formal complaint, while oil dealers have argued that they have already informed the agency.

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria’s national public relations officer, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told our correspondent that although the number of petrol stations in Lagos and Abuja that were selling petrol above the regulated tariff was low, many outlets in other states currently carry the product. at N170-N180/litre.

He said: “Petrol is sold in private storage lots (depots) at N167 to N170/litre. In fact, a friend contacted me to say that some tank farm owners were selling at N180/litre in Port Harcourt.

“So I want to tell you that the fuel will be available but it will be expensive in many other areas in the coming weeks if they (the depot owners) continue like this.”

He explained that NNPC’s non-supply of products to the oil company’s inland depots justified the high cost of products in private tank farms.

“What is needed is for the NNPC to supply these products to its inland depots to ensure that facilities such as the Warri and Port Harcourt refineries and some depots have products available for traders to take fuel at approved price N142-N145/liter”, Ukadike mentioned.

He added, “IPMAN National Chairman Debo Ahmed has ordered all traders to provide round-the-clock service and he has called on security agencies to provide adequate security.

“So this is what we need now and I also want to let you know that the price of petrol at some petrol stations is over N165/litre as approved by the government. And that’s because that they do not get the product at the price approved by NNPC.

When told that the merchandise was still being distributed at the approved rate of N165/litre in parts of Abuja and Lagos, the IPMAN spokesperson replied, “If you look closely, these are mainly major distributors and some mega gas stations.

“And that’s because these large traders, which are far outnumbered by independent traders, especially in other states outside of the two areas you mentioned, source from NNPC.

“But the independent traders mainly source their supplies from private tank farm owners and a few from NNPC. But right now these private tank owners are selling at around 170 naira/litre.

On why private deposits were selling above the regulated price, Ukadike said that is what the government should fix.

“And when an independent distributor locks down their gas station, they will say there is product but the independent distributors are refusing to buy in order to cause a shortage by hoarding product,” he said.

The oil trader added: “If we buy PMS at 170 liters N, how much will we sell it at our filling stations? And tomorrow the authorities will come and shut down our stations and use the police to arrest our attendants.

“Unfortunately these things are happening when the facts are there for all to see.”

It was gathered on Sunday that petrol sold for 250 naira per liter at some petrol stations in Rivers State last week, mainly because independent traders bought the product above the official price of the deposit.

Also in Jos, Plateau State, it was reported that the price of PMS had risen to between 175 and 200 naira per liter at some service stations operated by independent distributors.

Bayelsa reports further confirmed the price increase as a liter of fuel was found to be sold for N170, N185, N195, N200, N215 and N250 at various fuel stations operated by independent traders.

Ukadike said the situation will persist unless the government calls the owners of private deposits to order.

He pointed out that independent traders would certainly be at a loss if they distributed petrol at the official rate of N165/litre after buying it at around N170/litre.

The manager of a petrol station in Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja, confirmed that some private depots were dispensing above the government-approved rate.

“Private depots are selling above the approved rate of N145/litre and if this continues very soon the price of petrol will exceed N180 even in Abuja as it is already like this in many states,” the distributor said. independent, who pleaded not to be named. for fear of being victimized, said.

NNPC has been Nigeria’s sole supplier of gasoline for about four consecutive years and supplies the product to tank farms or depot owners, where petrol stations come from to source their purchases.

But when told of independent traders’ complaints against depot owners, Group Managing Director, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Garba-Deen Muhammad, said he was unaware of the development.

“Honestly, I’m not aware of that,” Muhammad said, saying the oil company had brought in products to ensure sufficient supplies and that the queues for petrol across the country had been properly eliminated. .

The NNPC recently said it was working hard to resolve queues caused by imports of adulterated gasoline. She had announced that more than 2.3 billion liters of PMS would arrive in the country before the end of February 2022.

This, he said, would restore the level of sufficiency above the national 30-day target.

He also said that the oil company had more than a billion liters of gasoline in stock and that the PMS currently being distributed at various gas stations across the country was safe.

Moreover, when the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority was contacted about independent traders’ concerns over the price hike of PMS by private deposits, its spokesperson, Kimchi Apollo, said that the Gas station owners should file their complaints formally with the NMDPRA.

He said, “If it was true, they should tell us about it. They should let us know. They have to let the authority know. Ask them to report it to the authority so that we know such a problem is happening and then fix it.

The NMDPRA is the regulatory body for the downstream and midstream petroleum sector. It has the power to sanction offending depots and gas stations that dispense gasoline above approved rates.

But when told the response of the NMDPRA and asked if the independent traders had filed their concern with the authority, the IPMAN PRO replied in the affirmative.

Ukadike said: “We have. This is because we have made public that we no longer purchase this product at a government stipulated rate. We rather buy it between N162 and N170 per liter from private depots.

“Isn’t it up to the authority to investigate and determine whether the issue we raised is true or not?” Indeed, if this is allowed to escalate, the price at the pump of petrol will reach or exceed 180 N/litre.

“Do we need to carry signs or go on strike? No! We want to stay peaceful in business and we don’t want Nigerians to suffer. If we say we are not going to buy, there will be a shortage of fuel.

He added, “The fuel shortage, of course, will hit the masses hard. In addition, we have our facilities and our tickets lying, we have to buy products, sell and pay workers’ wages. We have to maintain our facilities, pay rent both to the government and to others.

The IPMAN PRO pointed out that the rise in the deposit price for PMS was the main reason why the product was dispensed above the official price of N165/litre at many service stations owned by independent distributors in the States.

“That’s why you see different prices higher than the official price at petrol stations in many states because there is no way to buy between N165 and N170/litre and the government will expect until you sell at N165/litre,” he said. .

Ukadike added: “Who will now bear the loss? That is why we are advocating that the government, through the NNPC, send its products to its inland depots, as there is no way that inland depots can inflate the price. But owners of private tank farms will inflate the price.

Asked why NNPC often provides PMS to private tank farm owners, the IPMAN official said, “When you ask them that, they will say it is because of pipeline vandalism.

“But whose responsibility is it to protect these pipelines? Isn’t it up to them to strengthen their systems? Why do they choose to ship their products to private tank farm owners rather than their own depots? Most of their inland depots have no product.

An NNPC official said some private tank farms were easily accessible to small vessels to unload PMS, but noted that it was the duty of the regulator to ensure that these tanks met the approved ex-stock price to prevent a general increase in the price at the pump. gasoline.

Contacted, Olufemi Adewole, executive secretary of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, did not respond. A text message sent to him about this had not yet received a response until the time this report was filed.

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