Even as the nation is yet to get over the anxiety of an imminent deregulation of the petroleum industry, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) is threatening to clampdown on operators of the sprawling petroleum products depots in Apapa, Lagos.
The DPR is government’s major regulatory agency in the tank farm business, but its officials revealed last week that owners of the multi billion Naira businesses risk closure if they fail to comply with certain provisions.
Investigations by Shipping Position Weekly correspondent, Dapo Olawuni revealed that many of the tank farms are defaulting in the renewal of their licenses for the current year and for this, the DPR has threatened to shut the gates of defaulting tank farms by April.
There are about 21 tank farms operating in Lagos state alone and the DPR says that only very few have renewed their licenses for 2009. They are located at the popular Ibru jetty (also called Ibafon), Lister jetty and Kirikiri jetty all on or off the ever- busy Apapa end of the Apapa –Oshodi expressway dealing mainly in importation and distribution of petroleum products such as: premium motor spirit (PMS), dual purpose kerosene (DPK) and automated gas oil (AGO).
Confirming the impending clampdown in a chat with Shipping Position Weekly, a top official at the Apapa office of the DPR, Mr. A. Shaibu explained that the license renewal exercise is carried out yearly and that the license expires by December 31 of every year. He disclosed further that owners of tank farms are expected to renew their licenses early enough so that officials of the department can ascertain their level of compliance with guidelines that are governing their operations.
He however acknowledged that apart from the DPR license, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) also issues licenses because the jetties belong to the agency. According to him, the NPA license is as important as the DPR license, even as he confirmed that new tank farms are springing up around the Kirikiri axis.
According to him, some of the ones that are being constructed are yet to be inspected by DPR. He however assured that none of them can commence operations unless the department certifies them. Shipping Position Weekly confirmed the identities of the new tank farms as: Borag, Fatgbems, Index, Swift and Proverbs.
On the already existing facilities, Shaibu stated that by the time the routine inspection is carried out, any farm that is yet to comply will be stopped from working.
He also revealed that not all the tank farms are involved in importation of petroleum products and that many of them actually receive their supplies form the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). According to him, those that do not import will no longer get supplies form the NNPC until their papers are perfected and brought up to date.