The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) has faulted the claim by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it has a stock of 1.2 billion litres of petrol, saying such huge volume of products, equivalent to about 300 imported cargoes, could not be stored anywhere in the country!
Earlier this month, the NNPC had stated that its downstream subsidiary, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), have 1.2 billion litres of petrol in stock. The statement explained that this translates to 31 days sufficiency, going by the 40 million litres daily consumption of the product in the country. While giving the assurance in Abuja, the Managing Director of PPMC, Haruna Momoh had stated that: “NNPC has made adequate arrangements to ensure energy sufficiency in the country and reassured motorists that the noticeable queues at the filling stations would thin out in the days ahead”.
This statement may not be unconnected with similar reassurance made to Nigerians on the 4th of May by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the fuel scarcity sweeping across the nation would soon disappear following the payment of outstanding claims to petroleum marketers. The Minister of Finance had then commended Nigerians for their patience during the period of the scarcity of the commodity. She had also asked the marketers to ensure steady supply of petroleum products to ease the sufferings of Nigerians.
However, the reality on ground as at date is a sharp contrast to the statements credited to the above authorities.
Sounding a note of cautious optimism earlier on the 11th of May, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had asserted that there are no products for its members to load from the various depots. The union in fact called on Nigerians to direct their questions on the lingering fuel queues in the country to the Federal Government agency, such as the NNPC and the Major marketers in the country, rather than its members whose major work is to lift and supply petroleum products to end users.
Well, now the Major Marketers under the aegis of The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) through its Executive Secretary, Obafemi Olawore have come out to state that the ‘acclaimed’ NNPC’s stock of 1.2 billion litres, equivalent to about 300 imported vessels is probably a figment of someone’s crude imagination.
In fact, NNPC has been challenged to disclose where the stock of 1.2 billion litres is stored, adding that if the Corporation gives the products to the marketers, they will distribute it to Nigerians. He spoke further: “You are talking about the NNPC; NNPC said they have 1.2 billion litres but anybody, who tells you that, you should ask him where the stock is. They should tell us where the stock is located. Remember that I told you that if they give it to us, we will distribute because we are not fighting the Nigerian public. What we are saying is that they should pay us our money. Because of the love we have for Nigeria, if the NNPC gives us products, we will distribute”.
A Daily Independent Report monitored in Lagos last week seems to corroborate the prevalent situation. In the report, an industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said depots in the country are operating at below 25 per cent capacity, signifying that the available product cannot meet demand.
“If there is fuel in the country it is from the operations of the depots that you will know. By now you would have seen that many filling stations would have gotten the product; but the reverse is the case. No depot is doing up to 25 per cent installed capacity. The scarcity may linger till June,” he said.
On insinuation that the marketers may not be willing to import fuel based on fears that the in-coming government may not be well disposed to subsidy payment, he said the argument might not be unfounded.
Marketers would not want to import petroleum products now since the policy thrust of the incoming government as regards subsidy payment is not known, he added.
In another report, the President of the National Union of Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) Salimon Oladiti indeed stated that only six (6) fuel depots with 400 litres capacity out of the 56 depots in Lagos had products for loading just before Lagos State Government issued its relocation order to tanker drivers last week.
The question then is: Where do we as a Nation go from here? Your guess is as good as ours!