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Why fuel scarcity lingers, by major oil marketers


fuel scarcity

Nigerians waiting to get fuel at a filling station

• Port Harcourt refinery releases 28m litres of PMS
• World oil producers’ meeting deadlock crashes crude price

Despite efforts by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the independent marketers to ensure the availability of petrol, Nigerians have continued to experience the scarcity of the product .

The situation is worse in Lagos as major filling stations were shut yesterday. The few that opened for business were selling between N150 and N200 per litre, while black marketers took advantage of the situation to sell a litre of petrol for N300.

Meanwhile, the sharp drop in the international crude oil prices may continue, as a meeting of leading oil exporting countries in Qatar failed to proffer a solution the problem.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, the Executive Secretary of Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Thomas Olawore, attributed the lingering fuel scarcity in Lagos to the high number of trucks going out of the city to other states daily. According to Olawore, the marketers are making genuine efforts to ensure the availability of PMS in the country.

Another marketer told The Guardian on condition of anonymity that the situation had not abated due to the long period of fuel scarcity, which caused panic buying and storing of the product by those who felt the problem was far from being over.

There were indications yesterday that despite the current government’s efforts to make the product available, it might take up till first or second week of May for the scarcity to be completely eliminated.

Meanwhile, Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited, has released 28 million litres of petrol to the market to help arrest the lingering scarcity that is crippling economic activities.

The Managing Director of the company, Dr. Bafred Audu Enjugu, said that the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCC) of the refinery had been running, while some products from the primary processing units had been blended to generate over 10.28 million litres of PMS.

Enjugu said 1.7 million litres were released on Friday while another 4.5 million litres were transferred for evacuation and distribution on Saturday.

The refinery commenced a process of blending Crack C5 and Naphtha yesterday leading to the generation of 17.3 million litres for immediate distribution.

Enjugu assured that the premier refinery is available to sustain its production and contribute to the nation’s petroleum products pool. This, he hopes, would reduce the pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange demand through import substitution.

Speaking on the scarcity, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Mallam Garbadeen Muhammad said the corporation’s MOMAN and the Independent Petroleum Marketing Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), were all trucking out petrol from their various marine and inland depots to stabilise the situation.

“The NNPC/NPMC is collaborating with relevant stakeholders in the hydrocarbon value chain to wet the nation with PMS. This is in line with the resolve and mandate of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to restore normalcy to the filling stations across the states of the federation,” Muhammad explained.

The emergency meeting held in the Qatari capital Doha yesterday to freeze production levels appeared not a smooth sail for oil producers as their hope was dampened by tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Kachikwu was also at Doha to push his longstanding position of production cut.

Iran has consistently refused to cut production, but Saudi officials said it would take such action only if Iran were willing to cut.

The deadlocked meeting has further left uncertainty in the oil market and further spiked the price of OPEC basket of 13 crudes to $38.58 a barrel, while the Brent crude fell to $43.10 for about $44.60 last week.

In fact, all the commodities such as WTI crude, Brent, Ethanol, Natural gas, gasoline and heating oil experienced fall in price yesterday after the Doha meeting.

Notwithstanding the turbulent situation in OPEC, Gabon is reported to have been showing interest in rejoining the cartel after more than two decade after absence from the group.

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