Nigerian Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (3rd from right) Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru (2nd from right) and other government functionaries at the official commissioning of the Petrolex petroleum tank farms sited at Ibefun area of Ogun State last week
Even as scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol persists across the country, downstream operators have alleged that it is a deliberate attempt by some elements in the sector with collaboration from transporters to sabotage the Federal Government and by extension, the innocent Nigerian masses. Speaking with Shipping Position Daily last week at the tank farms in Apapa, one of the operators, Comrade Fidel Ose stated that the tank farms are now a shadow of themselves because customers are no longer coming to load products as it used to be. He said that the fuel scarcity is artificial and that it is the handiwork of some dubious operators in the sector to make more gains during the yuletide. Investigations carried out by Shipping Position Daily last week in Apapa Lagos showed that many of the tank farms do not have petrol despite the promise by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to flood the market with product.Some of the marketers said they were still awaiting vessels the NNPC had promised to import last week. For example, our correspondent gathered that out of about 28 functional depots in Lagos only four had stock of petrol, while 14 had diesel.Also, the major marketers - Oando, Mobil, Forte Oil, Total, Conoil, NIPCO, and MRS had petrol, which they were selling at normal price but to only their dealers, except NIPCO. Also, petrol was selling at ex-depot prices of between N140 and N143.50 in the four other depots - D Jones, Mao Oil, Sahara, and Stallonire.However, diesel was available in 14 depots - Wosbab, NIPCO, AA Rano, Acorn, Aiteo, D Jones, Fatgbems, Folawiyo, Rahamaniya, Obat, MRS, Integrated Oil, Ibeto, and Ibakem. But speaking with our correspondent, Fidel Ose also blamed the situation and non-activity at the depots on the bad access roads leading to the ports. He said that the Tin Can and Apapa port areas where tank farms are located is on total lockdown and trucks cannot access the depots as usual.“The Apapa roads are bad and it is disturbing work, and apart from that, the prices are high and because of this there are no customers.The scarcity is artificial, that is always the situation with Nigeria, there are people that from January they have started making some permutations against periods like this, we don’t know where it is coming from, and you know that normally even when fuel price is not high, transporters would want to increase their prices” “So when there is a flash like this, it is an avenue for them, we think there is collaboration somewhere. However, for now the product is circulating gradually, and also the Petroleum minister, Kachikwu has promised that the queues will vanish in 48hours” he saidHe said that Nigerians sabotage the people in the name of sabotaging the government. The queues resurfaced a week ago after some oil traders involved in NNPC's Direct Sale-Direct Purchase (DSDP) contract flooded the market with diesel instead of petrol that was stipulated in their contract agreements. While the market became wet with diesel, there was a shortfall in the supply of petrol by the NNPC, which is majorly the sole importer of the product. The shortfall had fueled an allegation by the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) that the NNPC was undersupplying its members and giving priority to depot owners. IPMAN further accused the depot owners of selling to them at exhorbitant ex-depot prices of between N140 and N143 per litre after accessing the product from the NNPC at official ex-depot price of N117 per litre. The independent marketers said it would be difficult for them to sell at the filling stations at N145 and threatened to shut down 900 filling stations in Lagos and Ogun States by December 11, a development that triggered panic-buying and the attendant crisis. Despite NNPC's pledge, normalcy has not returned in distribution, especially in Lagos. However, normalcy is gradually returning in petrol stations in Lagos.