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Fuel marketers boycott private depots


Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, is still scarce and this is why it is sold above N250/litre in various locations outside major cities of Abuja and Lagos, oil marketers stated on Wednesday.

It was also gathered that independent marketers, who operate over 85 per cent of filling stations nationwide, were still finding it tough to access PMS, as many of them had decided to stop purchasing the commodity from private depot owners.

This is because many private depots get the product at the regulated price of N148/litre, but sell to filling stations at over N200/litre, making it tough for retailers to dispense at the approved pump price of between N179 and N180/litre.

However, the Federal Government, through its Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, is striving to stop the high PMS cost by depots, as it sealed seven of them recently for dispensing at outrageous rates.

Oil marketers stated on Wednesday that the product was still scarce despite the interventions of the NMDPRA, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and the Department of State Services.

The Secretary, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, told our correspondent that though the problem in the downstream oil sector had been identified, it had not been solved.”

Shuaibu added, “The DSS has intervened, as well as the NMDPRA and NNPC, but up till now the solution is not in sight. Allow those who have the supply chain of the entire country to access this product.

“About 85 per cent of the supply chain is controlled by independent marketers. They operate in the hinterlands and own most of the filling stations that are directly closer to the yearnings of the people at the grassroots.

“If you say Nipco, Matrix or Capital Oil have been designated to independent marketers to pick products at the regulated price, by the time they get the product, I can assure you that within a week, all the queues will disappear.”

The IPMAN official continued, “As it is right now, you can drive into a retail outlet in the city centres of Abuja and Lagos and get the product at the controlled price. But the moment you drive outside Abuja or Lagos, you face calamity in terms of price.

This, according to Shuaibu, was because the commodity was still scarce.

“If it is in surplus it is going to force the cost down, but when the demand is high and the commodity is not available, the law of supply and demand will take its course,” he stated.

PMS scarce-IPMAN

It was gathered that the NNPC had to devise an initiative – Customer Express, whereby it ensured that independent marketers accessed petrol directly from the national oil company.

But marketers stated that this initiative had yet to solve the constraints associated with petroleum products supply, due to the difficulty they faced in trying to access the commodity through the scheme.

“As I’m talking to you, even independent marketers who have the Customer Express approval by NNPC, spend two to three weeks before they get the product,” Shuaibu stated.

He added, “Some of my members in Abuja who have been given this Customer Express ticket, they have made payments, it has been acknowledged, and for almost two weeks now they have not picked their products. So how can the problem be solved?”

The Customer Express ticket enables the independent marketer to buy the product directly from NNPC at the approved price, instead of getting it from a private depot at a higher price.

Shuaibu said, “The new managing director of NNPC Retail is doing his best and has been wonderful. When those who have these Customer Express apply, he approves. But when he approves, getting the product becomes a problem. We don’t know what is happening again.”

Private depots shunned

The IPMAN official said the association had directed its members to boycott the private depots.

“Honestly I have instructed all my members not to even patronise them (private depots) again, because, by the time you buy from there, you will find it tough to cope due to the fact that your pump price is being regulated,” he said.

“This is where we want the NMDPRA to come in. It should find out why the products are not released despite the approvals. We want a particular place to be designated where we can access products and I assure you that if this is done, within one week, the issue of scarcity will be over.”

The Chief Executive, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, stated on Saturday that the authority was making efforts to address the concerns in downstream, as it had clamped down on some depots that dispensed petrol above the regulated rate.

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