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Business News of Thursday, 19 January 2023


Election fears worsen fuel scarcity

Fuel scarcity (file image) Fuel scarcity (file image)

Fresh facts emerged yesterday over the worsening petrol scarcity which has entered its fifth month.

The Nation’s investigations yesterday revealed that most depot owners are shunning stocking up petrol over fears of the unknown considering that the general elections are just around the corner.

According to our source, who is a major marketer, a lot of depots are worried about tying their money down to stock up petrol because of the fear of the unknown. The source informed that the concerns centers around not wanting to incur losses in the event that they would have incurred higher cost on the product while stocking up and then government comes out to enforce price regulation towards the elections or even after.

“I can tell you that as at today, most depots are refusing to buy or stock up petrol because of fear of uncertainties over cost especially with elections around the corner. Nobody wants to incur any loss in business,” our source said.

Still, if the revelation by the a manager of an NNPCL Retail filling station is anything to go by, then tougher days may still be ahead in relation to the scarcity. At an NNPC filling station in Lagos, The Nation reporter, who witnessed the arrival and discharge of a petrol tanker at the station, gathered from the manager that the situation is becoming frustrating.

“Imagine that since three days now at the depot, all we could get is just 15, 000 litres of petrol? We bought this supply at N241 per litre, but we are not allowed to sell above N169 per litre because we are NNPC,” the manager said craving for anonymity.

Given the quantity supplied and the length of vehicular queue, the manager pegged sale of the commodity to N5, 000 per vehicle so that “we can dispense to more vehicles from the little quantity we have.

On Monday, the National Operations Controller of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mike Osatuyi, raise the alarm that the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) is yet to begin direct supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol, to its members, even after an agreement to that effect was reached at a meeting involving the NNPCL, IPMAN, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Department of State Services (DSS) and other stakeholders in the industry last month. The NNPCL is the sole importer of petrol into the country and had assured the independent marketers of direct supply to their members.

Yesterday, Osatuyi, in a telephone chat with The Nation, said the situation remained that same as his members are still waiting for the NNPCL to fulfil their part of the agreement reached at the meeting by supplying them fuel directly instead of the present arrangement where they have had to buy from a “third party”.

“We reached an agreement with NNPCL for direct fuel supply since last month to give us direct supply of petrol, but till now, we are yet to get the supply. We are still buying from private depots who sell the product to us at N240 per litre as at yesterday and by the time it reaches our stations it is at N250 per litre,” he explained.

According to him, supply issues are yet to be resolved and that is why even then the major marketers are not all selling regularly. Besides, Osatuyi said some of the filling stations that sell at the regulated price of N180 per litre are only putting up an appearance in the public, whereas behind the scene, from their depots, they sell the commodity to private marketers at N220 per litre. “That is why some of them don’t have fuel to sell in their stations as they would have made more money sell to the independents at a higher price,” he stated.

He regreted that the situation IPMAN has found itself has become unpalatable because its members are not also comfortable selling fuel at N250 or more a litre, but that their hands are tied as they cannot run at a loss. “Even some of our members are wondering if we have compromised on this issue because they cannot believe that by now, NNPCL would not have started selling fuel to us at the official price as agreed in that meeting.

Checks across the Lagos metropolis shows that while the long queues are still persistent at the few major marketers’ stations and NNPCL outlets that dispense fuel, however, the few IPMAN-member stations do not have any queue because of the price they sell fuel.