Petroleum products depot owners who are also independent marketers of the essential product have raised alarm that the current scarcity of petrol may persist.
Most of the depot managers and owners who spoke with Shipping Position Weekly disclosed that there is a shortfall in the number of ships that are bringing in petrol into the country.
Our findings which corroborate the marketers’ explanations is that only 10 petrol- laden ships arrived Lagos ports last week, a development which led the depots to start rationing their stock.
Although, none of our respondents could explain why there is a shortfall in the number of ships that are bringing-in petrol, our correspondent discovered that at least nine ships loaded with petrol have already been listed among ships that are being expected in Lagos ports this week.
Surprisingly however, out of about 26 ships that have already arrived and which are awaiting berthing rights, none is carrying petroleum products; an indication that the scarcity may linger for a while as demand continue to outweigh supply.
Even while the scarcity entered its third day last week, our correspondent who witnessed operations at many of then tank farms and jetties in Apapa revealed that only Capital Oil is loading petrol while others were busy loading diesel and other petroleum products.
Also, the scarcity of the product in other state has resulted into a lot of pressure on Lagos state being the supply point of more than 70 per cent of the nation’s petroleum products consumption.
However, while the petrol is scarce, there is less activity at most of the depots where products like automated gas oil (or diesel) and dual purpose kerosene were being loaded.
But corroborating our findings in Lagos, the Chairman of Ogun state branch of Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) Alhaji Surajudeen Bada also disclosed that the current scarcity is as a result of fuel pipeline vandalism and stoppage of importation of fuel by major marketers.
Bada, whose members operate mainly from the Mosimi depot in Ogun state confirmed that there is great uncertainty with regards to the quantity of fuel in most tank farms, adding that with this it would be difficult to predict the end of the scarcity.
Explaining, pipeline vandalism also contributed to the current round of scarcity, the IMAN chieftain disclosed that “there was a pipeline that was destroyed by vandals between Atlas Cove Jetty and Mosimi. Officials of the Pipeline Products and Marketing Company said they had repaired it; we gathered however that they may start test running soon, but that is another problem on its own”.
According to him, “the major marketers are not importing fuel and that had resulted into the scarcity. There is no fuel in the depots in Lagos. Only the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation had fuel and they are concentrating more on the mega stations and Abuja. So, that had necessitated rationing of fuel. Even in Mosimi, what we have been getting, despite the repair of the ruptured pipeline is nothing compared to our need. We are rationing what we have too.”
Meanwhile, some tanker drivers who spoke with Shipping Position Weekly have also used the opportunity of the current scarcity to appeal to the government to create more parking facilities for petroleum tankers, even as they stressed that in other not to go back to the same problem experienced weeks ago over arrest of tankers by the Lagos state government officials, government should try and provide another expanse of land for parking of truck.
According them, the truck park at Orile Iganmu can not accommodate all the trucks at once.