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300m litres of PMS arrive Lagos, FG begins probe of dirty fuel

By Collins Olayinka, Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Adaku Onyenucheya (Lagos), Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
10 February 2022   |   3:44 am
After five days of agony, with many drivers across the country struggling to fill their tanks, respite seems to be on the way for motorists. Already, two vessels have arrived at Lagos ports...

[FILES] Lagos Ports. Photo: STEARNG

After five days of agony, with many drivers across the country struggling to fill their tanks, respite seems to be on the way for motorists. Already, two vessels have arrived at Lagos ports, waiting to discharge Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), known as petrol, The Guardian gathered yesterday.
   
The vessels, as stated in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) publication, Shipping Position, arrived on Tuesday at ASPM jetty Ijora and yesterday at Pinnacle jetty, Apapa.
 

  
The document noted that two other ships arrived along with the PMS-laden vessels with salt and containers and have started discharging at the ports.
  
The document further noted that 18 ships laden with other products are expected to arrive in the country from February 10 to 22. The expected ships contain wheat, fish, sugar, gas, container and cargo.

This corroborated the assurances of the Federal Government, which through the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), said, yesterday, that at least six vessels were ordered by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited had arrived in the country.

The Chief Executive Officer, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, said the vessels came in with 300 million litres of petrol meant to close the gap created by the adulterated petrol withdrawn from depots and filling stations.

The regulator had on Tuesday said the limited quantity of PMS with methanol quantities above Nigeria’s specification was discovered in the supply chain.

Ahmed, ahead of a meeting with industry stakeholders in Lagos, said the regulator had been able to work with the technical team that included the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), NNPC and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) to address the issue.

He said: “I am happy to say that loading has been going on in most of the depots because we have been able to identify, isolate and quarantine the limited amount of gasoline affected by the methanol volume that was discovered.

“We have vessels that have arrived in the country recently. At least six arrived in the last few days ordered by the NNPC, carrying a total volume of close to 300 million litres, just to close the gap created by those vessels we have withdrawn from the system.”

According to him, the country currently has petrol volume in-store that can last for 20 days. He, however, said: “Our ideal days of sufficiency is 30, but because of the concern that made us withdraw the vessels, it created gap in our 30 days sufficiency.

“Again, with aggressive importation by the NNPC, this will be closed in a few days, according to the data we got from the NNPC’s import programme. Loading is also ongoing in most of the depots that have confirmed spec products; so, there is no need for panic. Hopefully, by tomorrow, Lagos will be cleared.”

According to Ahmed, there is a 9,000MT vessel that is currently about to discharge at Apapa port to major marketers, including OVH, TotalEnergies, 11 Plc, Conoil and Ardova Plc.

“Once these vessels complete discharging and start pushing the products to marketers, I believe Lagos will be cleared by Friday. We have got that assurance from the marketers.”

HOWEVER, the Federal Government has vowed to carry out an in-depth investigation into the circumstances surrounding the circulation of adulterated petrol in the country. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who briefed newsmen after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja, yesterday, said steps were already being taken to address the situation.

Petrol diluted with methanol has been circulated in the country, giving motorists great concerns, even as they lament the damaging effects of the adulterated product on their vehicle engines.

Sylvia said he had met with President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, over the situation, confirming there are issues needing attention.

Asked whether the culprits behind the importation of the dangerous fuel had been found or if there would be sanctions meted out to them when they are identified, Sylva said: “The issue did not come up in Council, but of course, you will recall I was here yesterday to brief Mr. President on the issue. I’m not in a position to disclose the identities of the companies, but there are some issues and we are actively tackling them.

“I will also convey your question to NNPC and maybe NMDPRA, but we’re actively handling it and I want to assure you that the problem will be a thing of the past very soon,” he said.

On whether culprits would be blacklisted or victims compensated, the Minister said: “I didn’t expect you to rush to any conclusions, there’ll be a major investigation to unravel everything and then let’s really get to the bottom of it before we can come back and tell you what is going to happen to the culprits.

“We know that some people’s vehicles must have also been damaged, that is also going to be taken into consideration in dealing with the situation,” he assured.

MEANWHILE, buck passing continued over who should be held accountable for the fuel situation in the country, as insiders suggested that the importation of adulterated petrol into Nigeria was caused by the greed of marketers and corruption of regulators.  
   
Also, operators continued to argue on the regulation of components of petrol products as some say the responsibility lies with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and not NMDPRA.

A source told The Guardian: “There is so much misinformation going on about this matter. The NMDPRA does not regulate standards. What the Authority regulates are operations of the players and not the products that are imported. The Authority does not have any laboratory where tests are carried out. The laws that set up both organisations are in the public domain.”

ANGRY motorists nationwide are taking out their frustrations on petrol attendants and managers of filling stations that sold adulterated petrol that knocked their engines.

The motorists said it was wrong for oil marketers to continue dispensing the dirty fuel when there were plans by NNPC to mop up the adulterated petrol in circulation.

In Abuja, drama ensued at the NIPCO filling station along Zuba-Kubwa expressway yesterday when some motorists bought petrol and their vehicles developed engine problems and were consequently grounded. They engaged the management in verbal war as they sought redress.

The fuel queues, yesterday, spread to Oyo State. Across many petrol stations, motorists faced hard times buying the commodity. Many of the residents, especially in the state capital of Ibadan, got stuck in filling stations.

Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Bukola Mutiu, has assured residents that the scarcity will be addressed soon.

Mutiu explained that IPMAN had been out of petrol supply from NNPC for almost two months, adding that the body had been buying petrol from private depot in Lagos and Warri, Delta State.

The Rivers State chairman of Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owned Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), Francis Dimkpa, has assured residents that the scarcity heating up Lagos and Abuja will not get to Rivers State. He, therefore, urged residents of the state to desist from panic buying to avoid crisis.

 

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