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NNPC meets marketers as petrol scarcity bites harder

The scarcity of the premium motor spirit, popularly called petrol, has continued to spread across many states, resurfacing in Abuja on Wednesday after disappearing briefly.

It grew worse in Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, among others.

Oil marketers blamed this on the 163 per cent hike in the cost of renting daughter vessels to move products from mother vessels, stressing that this had reduced the purchasing power of many dealers.

They also attributed the scarcity to a drop in PMS supply by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, the inability to access foreign exchange at the official rate, and the continued subsidy on PMS, among others.

On Wednesday, long queues surfaced in Lagos on Tuesday as motorists spent hours at filling stations in their bid to purchase PMS.

Commenting on this, the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, said the situation was due to various factors.

He said, “Talking about Lagos, that is where most of the (PMS) vessels come. When the mother vessel comes into Lagos, its products will be distributed by daughter vessels to ports in Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt, etc.

“These daughter vessels are hired by independent private tank farm owners or private depot owners, who pay vessel charges in dollars. Some of them source dollars in the open market. So, the dollar also determines the price of products.

“Now, you cannot expect them to sell PMS at N145/litre when the price of hiring a vessel has risen from $38,000 to around $108,000 to $111,000, depending on the level of the vessel. These charges are paid in dollars.”

Ukadike added, “The rate to charter daughter vessels to move products from the mother vessel to the PDOs has jumped within months due to issues around the hike in diesel cost, foreign exchange concerns and other industry problems.

“The products are moved to PDOs in Port Harcourt, Warri, Calabar, Lagos, etc, and by the time NNPC gives depots allocations, it becomes their responsibility to charter vessels that will take the products from the mother vessel to the depots.

“So, that lack of purchasing power in terms of sourcing dollars to evacuate products from the mother vessel and that little period that the NNPC cannot cope with will continue to bring in ghost scarcity.”

He explained that the absence of vessels to move products due to the hike in hiring cost was also contributing to the ghost scarcity of PMS across states.

“Ghost scarcity means scarcity that appears and disappears. You might be going to work in the morning and everywhere will be clear, but in the evening you will see queues,” Ukadike stated.

Meanwhile, oil marketers have assured that fuel queues currently being witnessed, especially in Lagos, would disappear before the weekend.

In a telephone chat with The PUNCH on Wednesday, spokesperson for the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Clement Isong, said the scarcity was a logistics issue as a result of delay at receiving products from offshore to onshore at the port.

He however said the logistics challenge had been resolved and members were currently trucking out products.

However, the National Controller Operations for the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mike Osatuyi, told The PUNCH that there was no product supply to its members.

“There’s no supply for now. Depots don’t have fuel, but we heard that they are expecting the product. They said vessel is coming but it’s yet to come,” he said.

According to him, few members of the association that had products at their filling stations bought at N205 at the depots on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We bought at N205, and if you add N8 transportation to it, price would go up to like N213. We bought yesterday and today. But now, no products,” he said.

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