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Fuel queues persist as operators blame supply breach

The queues for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, increased on Friday, as oil marketers stated that there was a breach in supply because the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited was not supplying enough products.

The NNPCL is the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria currently and sells to local dealers.

Other marketers stopped importing the product due to their inability to access foreign exchange, among other concerns.

The NNPCL had argued on Thursday that it had 30-day PMS sufficiency, though the national oil firm admitted that it was aware of the fuel queues in Nigeria.

“This is due to reduced depot load-out in Apapa, Lagos over a few days, and the root cause has since been addressed.

“We assure all Nigerians that there is ample supply with a sufficiency of at least 30 days. Motorists are advised to desist from panic buying as distribution will normalise over the next couple of days,” the company stated in a post on its X (formerly Twitter) handle.

But reacting to this on Friday, following the continued presence of queues across filling stations in Lagos, Abuja, Nasarawa, Niger and other states, oil marketers told our correspondent that they had yet to see the products from NNPCL.

“There is a supply breach. The NNPCL said they had 1.9 million litres, but we have not seen the supply. I’m in Lagos right now and the queues for petrol are widespread,” the President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, stated.

When told that the NNPCL announced on Thursday that it had 30 days of sufficiency, Gillis-Harry replied, “We are tired of all these announcements. There is a supply breach and marketers are trying the best they can to get products.”

Marketers get PMS supply offers from foreign refineries

On the way forward, the PETROAN president said that marketers were beginning to get offers from refineries abroad.

He added, “We are having offers from several refineries. We want to talk to the President to consider creating an energy bank that will be able to fund this move at very minimal charges.

“The government should also guarantee foreign exchange for the importation of refined petroleum products until we can repair our refineries and start producing in-country to meet our local demands for products.

“So we are getting offers to partner with the firms by buying products from refineries abroad because they have found out that PETROAN is credible in the downstream oil sector and they are willing to partner with us by supplying refined petroleum products.”

Gillis-Harry said the offers were at competitive prices, adding that the cost would be much more affordable for marketers to bring in products and help end the scarcity being witnessed in various parts of the country.

“For your information, the prices being offered are very competitive. We are going to access products at less than $600/metric tonne. With this cost, our products are going to be more affordable than what you buy at the pumps now,” he stated.

Asked whether there had been any communication from the government on how to assist marketers to start petrol imports, the PETROAN president said, “The only thing they have done is to give us licences.

 “But beyond the licence, we are now asking them to guarantee forex. We have the import licences but there is no guarantee for forex. So, how do we import without adequate forex?”

On his part, the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, said there had been no recent importation of petrol by NNPCL.

“The NNPCL has revealed that PMS consumption across the country has dropped by some considerable amount, which means that they will not increase their import volumes because they believe the amount they are importing is sufficient.

 “However, I know that they have not imported products lately, because for over a month, we have not been able to access products from them, and this issue of subsidy is now a challenge. It is now increasing, because of the forex rates,” he added.

Dealers stated that the queues in various parts of the country for petrol might continue to linger because many independent oil marketers had not been able to access PMS for over a month.

Many filling stations, particularly those operated by independent marketers were shut down due to a lack of products to dispense, while the few outlets that dispensed products, mainly those of major dealers, were greeted with queues on Friday.

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