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Tag Archives: NNPC

NNPC fuel import gulps $5.8bn — but scarcity persists

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Tuesday said it has spent $5.8 billion to import 9.8 million metric tons of petrol since late last year to combat the fuel crisis.

Mainkati Baru, NNPC group managing director, said at the public hearing held by the senate committee on public accounts in Abuja that the corporation had to carry out the massive importation after private fuel marketing companies abandoned the trade because of the high landing cost of the fuel.

This, he said, made cost recovery and profitability difficult owing to the regulated price regime.

“This is in fulfilment of (NNPC’s) statutory role of supplier of last resort to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer as a result of product unavailability,” a statement from the corporation quoted Baru as saying.

The NNPC boss, however, pointed out that cross-border smuggling owing to price disparity between Nigeria and neighbouring countries where a litre of petrol sells above N350 per litre as well as logistic issues in trucking products to different locations across the country remained serious challenges in the quest for fuel queue-free situation in the country.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producing country with over 2 million barrels per day of output, imports more than 85% needs of its PMS needs because of inadequate local refining.

Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, said on Tuesday the government was working on plans to bring in private sector investment in the repair and management of the refineries and get them up to about 90% of capacity.

“That process is almost completed now, probably in a matter of weeks, we will be announcing the winners,” he said.

“We want to get the private sector to be major investors in building new refineries.”

NNPC ‘operating illegal account’ — Melaye

West All Progressives Congress senator, Dino Melaye, has accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of operating a dubious account in the name of the Nigerian government.

The senator accused the corporation of owning major shares in a company which has no bank verification number as required by law.

Coming under order 42, Mr. Melaye raised the petition on Tuesday as he alleges that NNPC is making dubious transactions with the account.

“While some individuals and government appointees would continue to steal, we have decided to continue to expose corruption in public life,” he said.

“This morning I draw to the attention of the Nigerian senate to a suspected colossal, monumental corruption in NNPC.

“Mr. President, a company was registered with the name Brass NLG Limited with the federal government having controlling shares and we have some Italians, Belgians, French people who are shareholders with the federal government in controlling shares of about 50%.

“It is known fact that once you have a joint venture, the account of such joint venture should be domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“But in this case, that was not what happened. An account was opened with Keystone Bank, this account has no BVN and there have been periodic withdrawals.

“The last withdrawal from that account was to the tune of $4 million. As I speak to you, the balance of that account as at today is $137 million.”

Mr. Melaye sought the leave of the senate to present the issue as a motion on another legislative day.

The leave was granted after a voice vote by the lawmakers.

PPMC: We don’t need to consult national assembly over fuel subsidy

The managing director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Umar Ajiya has said that the act establishing the NNPC covers for any extra cost incurred on importation.

Ajiya was speaking on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels TV, on Friday.

PPMC, a subsidiary of NNPC, handles the distribution of petroleum products.

Senators had described the extra payments on petrol as illegal because the oil firm did not seek approval from parliament.

But Ajiya disagreed with their position.

“The act establishing us, and the national assembly knows clearly that in that same act, there is a provision that we can run our operations and recover our cost fully,” he said.

“There is a difference between the landing cost and the price we are selling clearly but that is part of our core structure.

“The NNPC act is a law in itself and the national assembly is the one responsible for enacting laws so if there is any remedy or solution as one of the senators said, the issue is to look into the act establishing these entities NNPC, CBN etc.”

However, Ajiya refused to use the term subsidy, saying: “For us, it is not a question of subsidy, we don’t know what subsidy is because it was not budgeted for. ”

During the height of petrol scarcity in December, Maikanti Baru, NNPC group managing director, said the landing cost of petrol had increased to N171.

Marketers had complained that they could not be selling the products at N145 when the landing had reached N171.

But Ajiya agreed that the corporation had been paying N26 to make up for the gap between the landing cost and approved pump price.

He said being the sole importer has put a burden on the finances of NNPC.

“It’s not totally in favour of NNPC. Let me clarify one fact, NNPC is not desirous of being the sole importer of products because for one, it puts a severe burden on our financial position as a corporation,” he said.

“It is a welcome idea if there are opportunities for private marketers to import, it is a highly welcome idea.”

NNPC restores Escravos-Lagos pipeline, resumes gas supply

The Escravos-Lagos Pipeline (ELP) which came down last week as a result of a fire incident has been restored and gas supply to customers on the line including power generating companies resumed.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which disclosed this Monday said the repair work on the pipeline followed the directive by the Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, to carry out an assessment of the damage with a view to getting a prompt solution.

It would be recalled that a section of the ELP at Abakila in Ondo State blew up in flames on January 2, 2018 as a result of bush fire.

The incident affected gas supply to customers in Ondo, Ogun and Lagos States with subsequent shutdown of a number of power plants.

With the restoration of the ELP and resumption of gas supply, the affected power plants with a combined generating capacity of 1,143MW would resume power generation.

The power plants include: Egbin Power Plant in Lagos State; Olorunshogo Power Plant, PEL Olorunshogo and Paras Power Plant in Ogun State; and Omotosho Power Plant in Ondo State.

The 36-inch Escravos to Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS) is a natural gas pipeline built in 1989 to supply gas from Escravos in the Niger Delta to various consumption utilization areas.

It supplies gas to power plants in the South-west and also feeds the West African Gas Pipeline System.

Buhari approved fuel subsidy, says NNPC boss

President Muhammadu Buhari authorised the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to subsidise petrol for Nigerians, Maikanti Baru, the NNPC chief has said.

Mr. Baru made this known on Friday during a brief interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa shortly after he performed Friday Islamic prayers.

The NNPC chief was reacting to the confusion thrown up by his revelations in Abuja last Friday.

Last Friday, the NNPC boss stirred the hornet’s nest when he disclosed that the landing cost of fuel has jumped to N171.

The state oil firm has, however, maintained that the N145 per litre price subsists, raising questions on who foots the bill of the minimum N26 differential; especially as such estimates are not contained in the 2017 and 2018 budgets.

On Friday, Mr. Baru said Mr. Buhari authorised the payment of the ‘subsidy’ by NNPC, to ease the pains of Nigerians.

“Do you want me to remove subsidy?” he said in response to questions demanding clarifications on the subsidy.

“What I am saying is that the landing cost as should be sold in the pump without under-recovery should be N171.40.

“However Mr. President has directed that we should maintain all the parameters to ensure that it is sold at N145 per litre. And that is why we are selling at depot at N133.28.8,” he explained.

The NNPC’s confirmation of petrol subsidy has drawn the ire of some Nigerians including the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.

“Where is NNPC getting the money with which it is subsidising petrol with N26 per litre? Is NNPC spending money from the sales of crude oil that should be paid into the federation account to pay subsidy?” Mr. Fayose, a known critic of President Buhari, said on Wednesday.

On Friday, the NNPC chief also blamed “greedy” marketers who, he said, chose to hoard the product after rumours of pump price increase emerged leading to the scarcity experienced in recent weeks.

Nigerians have had to confront scarcity of petrol in the last three weeks, a development that has ruined the plans of many for the yuletide.

The NNPC has consistently blamed oil marketers for hoarding the product while the marketers on their part have said that they had no supply.

On Friday, Mr. Baru also said his corporation has been able to resolve the petrol scarcity.

Deduct N27bn from $2bn you owe us, oil marketers tell FG

Oil marketers on Thursday asked the Federal Government to deduct the N27bn they owed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from the $2bn that it owed them.

The marketers stated that the petrol scarcity being experienced across the country would have been averted if the NNPC had listened to their warnings in October that there was a drop in supply of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).

On Wednesday, the NNPC attacked the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association over the statement by DAPPMA that its members had no petrol in their tanks despite the corporation’s claims of importing millions of litres of petrol.

The national oil firm also stated that DAPPMA members owed it the sum of N26.7bn for products received from it, adding that the statement credited to the association on the fuel supply situation, especially PMS, was very unfortunate.

But while speaking on a television programme monitored by our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, the Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, asked the government to deduct the marketers’ debt from the $2bn it owed the oil dealers.

He said, “I know they (NNPC) were referring to DAPPMA, but talking about who is owing who, this is all about trade; we are always buying from the NNPC to sell. So sometimes, we owe and other times we are in credit, but the truth is that the government is owing us.

“And we have agreed with the government since June that when you (government) are going to pay us, deduct whatever we are owing you. Collectively, marketers in the industry are owed close to $2bn, so you can’t compare it to N27bn. It is not only the NNPC that we are owing.”

He added, “We owe other government agencies, but we are saying that let’s start from the biggest and that is the fuel subsidy, the interest and the foreign exchange. We’ve done several reconciliations supervised by the Chief of Staff (to the President) and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

“So nobody is saying we are not owing, rather the government is owing us more and they should pay us and deduct whatever we are owing them.”

When asked why oil marketers were hoarding and diverting petrol as claimed by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, the MOMAN spokesman stated, “I wish we could meet face-to-face and I will tell him (Baru) when the problem started and when we started warning.

“I’d stated in the past that if you leave the NNPC as the sole importer of products, you will get to a point where the slightest shock will create a problem. The truth must be told, they (NNPC) are just getting the supply in some appreciable quantities. The supply dropped in October up until some two, three weeks ago; that’s the truth!”

Olawore added, “Supply into the system dropped and somebody must own up to this. I’m not here to pass any blame; we are here to see how we can solve the problem and after that, we can sit at the table to look at what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. But we all saw it coming.

“We saw it coming and we said it that your suppliers are defaulting; they are not supplying enough.”

NNPC lied, we didn’t owe it – DAPPMA

Meanwhile, DAPPMA on Thursday accused the NNPC of lying when it claimed that its members owed the national oil firm N26.7bn.

According to DAPPMA, its members have in the past one month paid over N90bn for petrol supply but have yet to receive any cargo from the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.

The Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said it was unfortunate for the national oil firm to attack and accuse marketers falsely.

In a statement signed by Adewole on Thursday, the association said, “It is an undisputable fact that DAPPMA members have paid for petrol supply (with bank funds) for over one month, the value of which is in excess of N90bn, yet the PPMC/NNPC had no cargo to allocate to them. As such how can we be held responsible for hoarding?

“The PPMC/NNPC does not transact business with DAPPMA members on credit; hence, we are not aware of any indebtedness to the PPMC/NNPC by our members. We again reject any attempt to blame marketers for the shortfall in supply as it is not our making since the NNPC has been the sole importer since October 2017.”

Adewole said marketers had continued to sacrifice to keep the country wet with fuel despite over N600bn debt owed DAPPMA members and over N800bn owed the different marketers’ groups as a whole by the Federal Government.

He stated, “The essence of our initial press release was to shed light on salient issues surrounding the shortfall in current petrol supply, which is presently solely handled by the NNPC. It was not an attempt to join issues with the PPMC/NNPC with whom we are partners.

“The NNPC’s view of our press release stating our side of the story and seeking to defend marketers for the very first time against the unwarranted accusations of hoarding and profiteering is rather unfortunate.”

The association, however, assured Nigerians that all possible steps were being taken to cooperate with the PPMC/NNPC to eliminate fuel queues nationwide in the next few days.

Amidst the confusion, queues by motorists for petrol in Abuja and neighbouring states of Nasarawa, Niger and Kaduna failed to disappear, as some filling stations were said to be collecting illegal “gate fees” before allowing vehicles to drive in to purchase PMS.

In Lagos, the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Mordecai Ladan, commended the load-out history of Nipco Plc since the resurgence of petrol scarcity across the country, with the firm increasing the trucking of the product across the country.

The DPR boss, who made an unscheduled visit to the Nipco terminal in Apapa on Thursday, said he was impressed with the load-out and the assurances by the company’s management on hitch-free product loading as supplies from the NNPC improved significantly.

Mordecai, who was received by the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Suresh Kumar, and the Chief Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Taofeek Lawal, said his team was on tour of depots to ascertain the availability of product stocks.

Earlier, Lawal had informed the DPR team that the company had in stock 17,000 metric tonnes of petrol or approximately about 23 million litres courtesy of supply by the NNPC via the Apapa jetty on Wednesday.

FG gives conflicting signals over return of petrol ‘subsidy’

Despite its own admission that the landing cost of imported petroleum products has exceeded approved retail pump price, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC still claims the government has not been paying subsidy on petrol.

The government says it has been making for “extra cost” for months, but denies paying petrol “subsidy” which it stopped in 2016.

The Buhari administration announced the removal of petrol subsidy in 2016, and imposed a pump price increase to N145 a litre as the then new government tried to distance itself from the misdeeds of past governments.

The government said it would channel its resources instead into getting the refineries up, and save the trillions of naira past governments squandered on fuel subsidy payments.

But it seems the Buhari government, soon after persuading Nigerians to accept the petrol pump cost raise as the price for scraping subsidy, quietly went behind and continued with the same subsidy policy of its predecessors.

The NNPC has not given details how the cost is covered. But such cost would amount to billions of naira, and would imply the government redirected resources that would have gone into developmental projects into paying subsidy — the same policy it criticised other governments for.

It is not clear where the monies were sourced from, since budgets for 2016 and 2017 had no mention of subsidy appropriations.

The NNPC Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, stirred controversy on Friday when he disclosed that the official landing cost of petrol has for months been about N171.40 per litre.

By implication, Mr. Baru, who was speaking at the end of his monitoring tour of filling stations in Abuja on Sunday, was admitting that the government was bearing an extra cost of about N26.40 for its decision to keep retail pump price of petrol intact at N145 per litre.

But, Nigerians have read insincerity into Mr. Baru’s disclosure, particularly about the government’s refusal to make official pronouncement on the issue of subsidy component in NNPC fuel supply cost, having declared at inception it was removed from the official petroleum products pricing template.

However, asked to confirm whether subsidy was restored in the country’s fuel pricing template without a formal announcement by government, NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, was emphatic in his denial, in a telephone chat with PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja.

“No! No!! No!!” Mr. Ughamadu said. “The GMD was very clear on the issue. He never talked about government subsidy. If you check the budgets for last year and this year, there was no appropriation for fuel subsidy. So, how can we be talking about subsidy? What we have is extra cost.

Asked to explain the N26.40 price differential between the fuel landing cost of N171.40 per litre and retail pump price of N145 per litre, the NNPC spokesperson said although the corporation has been subsidising the fuel price, “we cannot talk about it officially, because it is not the same thing as government subsidy, which is always appropriated in the budget by the National Assembly.”

“As I have always said, NNPC has a critical role to play in products distribution and supply in the country, not only as a commercial entity and importer of last resort, but also as ‘social supplier’, to ensure that the system gets wet all the time,” he said.

But, a senior official of one of the products marketing associations in the country, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, was emphatic that subsidy had been back in fuel pricing lexicon for several months.

“There is subsidy,” the official told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday in a telephone interview. “For many months, products have been landing at costs higher than N145 per litre. So, subsidy has always been in the market place.

“But, there is no provision for subsidy in the budget. How the subsidy is recovered is government’s business, since the NNPC has been the only one that was importing. All that concerns us is that we buy at NNPC at N133.80 per litre and sell at N145 per litre.”

On how the current fuel supply crisis, which has given Nigerians one of the bleakest Christmas celebrations in recent times, the official traced its roots to October 2016, when NNPC products suppliers began to deliberately default on their contract deliveries.

He said during the winter months, which usually coincided with the Christmas period in Nigeria, European fuel suppliers consider producing diesel more profitable, because of their need for heating, than petrol, a situation that creates shortage of supply for petrol.

“Prior to the winter season, contracts for fuel supplies are given at ‘winter premium’, which consists of cost of product plus $6 profit. With that, the suppliers would make all the profits in the summer months, and in the winter, which they consider unprofitable, they will deliberately decide not to supply products, because the premium is very low,” he explained.

He said the refusal of the NNPC suppliers to meet their contracts resulted in a huge shortfall, despite assurances by the state oil company that it was building a healthy stock of products to take care of the usual increased demand by consumers in such festive seasons.

However, the official said the situation worsened in the run up to Christmas, because NNPC, for almost a year, remained the sole importer and supplier of petroleum products in the country.

“If there were other private importers, they would have imported to fill the gap. But, when the shock in supply shortfall came, there was no shock absorber, and everybody was exposed,” he said.

He expressed confidence that the situation was going to improve significantly in the next couple of days, as the NNPC has not only stepped up efforts to stock up products, but has also encouraged other marketers to join in importing fuel.

“The NNPC has now increased its premium from $6 to over $20, making it very attractive for other marketers to agree to jump in and import with NNPC. They have agreed to flood the market with products within 24 hours,” the official said.

The national president, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, said the differential in prices between landing cost and pump price “cannot be subsidy, but price modulation.”

“Whatever is the price differential between landing cost and retail pump price, government knows how to cushion it. That’s why we have government. Whether it is subsidy or price modulation, does not matter now.

“The important thing is the supply monopoly that has been broken, with government giving some marketers that have the facilities access to finance to begin to import,” Mr. Okoronkwo said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“Government is on course to solving the problem. The marketers have assured they can deliver within 24 hours. This will cushion the problem in the meantime, while government takes time to handle the long term solutions, of allowing the refineries to work continuously, other refinery operators allowed to come on board,” he added.

He dismissed insinuations that marketers were behind the current fuel crisis, by engaging in hoarding or smuggling, saying all attention should focus on making the new arrangement to work.

The national president, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson, said all that its members were interested in was for the government to ensure that four refineries were made to function optimally at all times.

“If the country’s refineries are functional at full capacity, they would augment what government gets from imports. Consequently, the huge foreign exchange spent on importation of petroleum products and payment of subsidy would be conserved. The refineries would provide jobs for our members and our economy will continue to grow,” Mr. Johnson told our correspondent in Abuja on Monday.


Marketers say depots empty as fuel queues subside in Lagos, Ibadan


The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has promised to flood depots with petrol but the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) said the corporation was yet to send petrol to its members’ depots.

The scarcity subsided yesterday in Lagos and Ibadan, with more filling stations selling petrol at the officials N145 per litre.

In Abuja, NNPC was battling hoarders, shutting down filling stations.

The situation was critical in Kaduna, Ilorin and many other cities.

DAPPMA’s Executive Secretary Olufemi Adewole, in a statement in Lagos, urged the NNPC to help the association so as to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians.

“Our members’ depots are empty. However, if the PPMC/NNPC can provide us with petrol, we are ready to do 24-hour loading to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians and for the fuel queues to be totally eliminated.

“We, petroleum products marketers, do empathise with all Nigerians who are going through difficulties at this time by spending hours on fuel queues because of the current fuel scarcity due to no fault of theirs.

”DAPPMA members import about 65 per cent of the nation’s total fuel consumption, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) imports about 15 per cent and PPMC/NNPC import the balance of 20 per cent.

“However, this scenario changed drastically due to several challenges faced by marketers.’’

The DAPPMA official claimed that its members paid PPMC/NNPC in advance for petroleum products.

He said fully paid-up petrol orders, which have neither been programmed nor loaded, exceeded 500,000MT (about 800,000,000 litres).

“As at today, there is enough petrol to meet the nation’s needs for 19 days at a daily estimated consumption of 35,000,000 litres. Sadly, some people have blamed marketers for hoarding products. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

”Hoarding is regarded as economic sabotage and we assure all Nigerians that our members are not involved in such illicit act.

“While all kinds of allegations have been made in the media, it is important to set the records straight, as Nigerians first and as responsible business men and women who employ Nigerians.

”As it stands today, NNPC has been the sole importer of PMS into the country since October,’’ Adewole said.

He said the current import price of petrol is about N170 per litre, with NNPC, which absorbs the subsidy on behalf of the Federal Government, as the importer of last resort.

”The international price of petrol went up during the period of Hurricane Katrina and it has not dropped below USD$600/MT since then.”

Adewole said the exchange rate of the dollar to the Naira is N306 for petrol imports and the interest rate banks charge is above 25 per cent.

”Landing cost of PMS in Nigeria is above N145 per litre, which means any of our members that import will have to resort to subsidy claims, a policy already jettisoned by the government.

”It is on record that any time NNPC assumes the role of sole importer; there are issues of distribution, because it is marketers who own 80 per cent of the functional receptive facilities and retail outlets in Nigeria.

”While we cannot confirm or dispute NNPC’s claim of having sufficient product stock, we can confirm that the products are not in our tanks and, as such, cannot be distributed.

”If the products are offshore, then surely it cannot be considered to be available to Nigerians,’’ he said.

An oil and gas merchant, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho has attributed the persistent scarcity of petrol to NNPC’s monopoly.

Iheanacho, a former Minister of Interior in the Goodluck Jonathan administration, who is the Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd., told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos yesterday that inability of the NNPC to create a window for private importers to import petrol also contributed to the scarcity.

He said the shortage was caused by the landing cost margin of N171 per litre and the selling cost pegged at N 145 per litre.

”The selling of the product at N145 per litre is no longer feasible with the current exchange rate.

”Shortage of foreign exchange and increase in crude prices have made it unprofitable to import petrol and sell same at N145 per litre.

”The problem is that importation of petrol is being handled, almost 100 per cent, by NNPC, while private importers backed out because the increase in crude price has made the landing cost high,’’ he said.

Iheanacho said the marketers’ huge debts of over N800 billion had also contributed to the inability to import petrol.

He said most independent marketers had closed their companies due to inability to pay their workers. Iheanacho urged the Federal Government to settle all the outstanding debts owed marketers since 2015.

Loading of petrol has begun in Apapa, Lagos.

Hundreds of trucks were on queue yesterday, waiting to load petrol at Total, Forte Oil, Oando Plc, MRS, NIPCO and other private depots.

In the city, long queues of motorists persist in many filling stations in the metropolis.

In Ikorodu, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Oshodi, Ajegunle, Ikotun, Bariga and Sango-Ota, some stations were selling petrol for between N180 and N200 per litre.

In Ikorodu many filling stations were selling at N200 per litre. Only a few were selling at the official N145 per litre.

Commercial buses increased their fares by more than 100 per cent, claiming that they bought petrol above the official price.

A NAN report said that the fare from Ikorodu Garage to CMS increased from N300 to N350 before the scarcity to N1000.

From Epe to Ketu, passengers were being charged N1, 500 as against N700 they were paying before the scarcity. The fare from Ketu to Costain was between N300 and N500.

NNPC, DPR uncover illegal fuel reservoirs in Abuja

A combined team of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and security agents on Sunday uncovered illegal reservoirs of fuel in Abuja.

Speaking at the site of the mini depot, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, said it was saddening to make such discoveries in the city centre when less than 500 meters away, motorists were on endless queues.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that hundreds of jerry cans, 200-litre drums, and 500 litre tanks were uncovered in a sting operation by the team in the city centre.

According to him, the perpetrators have caused untold pain and hardship on Nigerians during a crucial season as Christmas.

“In the war room (where crucial issues are discussed during fuel crises), we asked ourselves why the situation (fuel queues) persists.

“We got an intelligence report of these mini depots and as you can see, these golf cars that are supposed to have 40 litres have tanks that can take 200 litres of petrol.

“This other one is a mini depot. Although some of the products are diesel, the DPR says it is unauthorised. We have over 50 days supply of diesel and so there is no reason to hoard the product.’’

The Abuja Zonal Controller of DPR, Mr Mohammed Abba, told newsmen “we have arrested 20 people in connection with those who sell in jerry cans in Zone One alone and their facilities.

“We are handing them over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, because the DPR has no capabilities to prosecute.

“We will test for forensic analysis and we will pursue the case to court’’.

Mr Aminu Abdullahi, Assistant Commandant-General Operations, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps while receiving the perpetrators confirmed receiving the 20 persons.

“We have received the suspects and DPR will be called in for forensic analysis to test what was handed over,’’ he said.

NNPC blames marketers for fuel scarcity

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has blamed the current petroleum scarcity in the country on marketers of the product.

The Group Managing Director of the company, Maikanti Baru, in a statement by Ndu Ughamadu, the NNPC spokesman, also said part of the problem was the rumours about purported planned increase in the pump price of petrol.

He stated that some marketers, in their quest to cash in on the situation, suddenly started hoarding products.

“But we swiftly swung into action by doubling our supply nationwide. At the time the rumour started, we had about 30-day sufficiency.

“The normal daily supply to the nation is 700 trucks, equalling about 27-30 million litres per day,’’ Mr. Baru said.

He assured that the corporation had doubled its daily supply of petrol, from daily 700 trucks (about 27 million – 30 million) litres per day supply to 80 million litres since the current hiccup in the supply chain was noticed a few days back.

He further assured Nigerians that the NNPC had enough products sufficiency that would last up to 30 days.

Mr. Baru, who expressed joy at PENGASSAN’s call-off of its planned strike, urged motorists not to engage in panic buying as the corporation had more than enough products for domestic consumption.

Assuring that the fuel situation would fizzle out this week, Baru warned marketers against hoarding, stressing that any filling station found wanting in this regard would lose its entire products to motorists.

He commended NNPC’s sister agencies, the Department of Petroleum Resources and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, for their support in helping NNPC tackle the menace of hoarding by filling stations.

Signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Corporation and the Benue Government on the Agasha-Guma bio-fuels Projects, Baru said that at least a billion litres petrol-laden cargoes were expected by December.

He said the Bio-fuels Project would provide employment for the teeming youths in the state.

“I believe that Benue has what it takes to lead the country in the bio-fuels industry.

“I hope that your state will soon move from food basket to fuel basket of the nation,” Mr. Baru noted.

The Agasha-Guma bio-fuels project aims at developing Integrated Sugarcane Plantation and Fuel-Ethanol/Sugar/Power Plant Complex in Benue through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).