Capital Oil Breaks Rank to Ease Fuel Shortage
This welcome move is however too little to make a great dent in the situation if the crippling strike by oil workers does not come to an end.
The fuel shortage, which initially began after petroleum marketers refused to import petrol due to unpaid oil subsidy claims, was exacerbated when the Petroleum and National Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) went on strike. The oil workers unions are protesting against the Nigerian Petroleum Development Corporation (NPDC)’s withdrawal from operatorship of Shell divested oil blocks, oil mining leases (OMLs) 42, 40 and 30. They are asking the Minister of Petroleum to reverse the withdrawal and resume operatorship.
The ensuing petroleum shortage has wreaked havoc with businesses in the business capital of Lagos. The roads are deserted, buses are not running, businesses are closing, flights are being cancelled, communications networks for phones and internet are facing severe disruption and now banks are beginning to limit their operational hours as the fuel shortage takes its toll.
Speaking about his decision to break rank and begin supplying petrol, the CEO of Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Ubah said he took action to ease the nation’s suffering. He confirmed that once the current stock is depleted, there will be further supplies coming in as they have more stock on vessels waiting to berth at the port. Ubah is asking other marketers to follow suit and save the nation from “impending economic and social crisis.”
Just before we went to press, the strike was called off. Before that, other marketers had not joined the Capital in defying the strike, as they appeared to be waiting to see the repercussions on Capital Oil before deciding whether or not to join. While they wavered, the strike continued to bite with land and air travel looking likely to grind to a halt if the strikes had continued much more into the week. In addition, lives could have been put at risk as hospital generators stopped working for lack of fuel.
The incoming government is now under pressure to remove the corrupt fuel subsidy that has seen the subsidy bill ballooning to such a level that the nation can no longer afford to pay it, leaving the marketers to go on strike, holding the nation to ransom.