Fuel Scarcity May Linger For Two Months Before Supply Stabilises —-Marketers


…blame NNPC Ltd on the situation

…Say the Logistic challenge is not resolved yet

By Olusola Bello and Sekinat  Shehu

Motorists queue up for petrol at a filling station in Abuja on Monday, April 29, 2024. Photo: ChannelsTV/Sodiq Adelakun

The current fuel scarcity may not go soon as some operators said it could linger for upwards of two months before Nigerians can enjoy reasonable supply stability.

According to some of the operators, they said even though some companies like Pinnacle Oil and Gas are currently discharging reasonable quantities of Premium Motor Spirit PMS or petrol, the SBM is also discharging some good quantities just as NNPC limited is pushing some out, these will not bring immediate succor to Nigerians.

One of the operators went philosophical when Business Standards asked him whether, with the current efforts by NNPC Limited, there would be relief before the weekend, he said: “Will your wife wait until when the Garri at home finished before she starts talking about the need to replenish the stuff. If NNPCL says it has enough oil, ask them what is the quantity of oil in its storage facilities and how many days of sufficiency it has.

In other words, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL) has exhausted its reserves and there is not enough oil for marketers to load to various parts of the country, hence the current hiccups being experienced by Nigerians.

 They said, that the two weeks IPMAN gave that supply could normalise is an understatement. To them, it will take two months to stabilize supply. Meaning that the supply level is so low that it will take some time to build it up.

On Monday, the situation became more chaotic in Lagos as many filling stations were not selling. Long queues have become a common feature at the ones dispensing fuel.

At Ilorin, Kwara State capital, residents on Monday lamented the lingering fuel scarcity in the metropolis.

They urged the authorities to pity the masses, pleading to the government for quick intervention to ease the situation.

Petrol prices have increased from N640 and N700 to N1000 and N1800 in Ilorin, resulting in a hike in transportation fares and prices of goods.

This medium reports that selected routes in Ilorin where passengers hitherto paid N200 are now between N300, N400, and N500 depending on the length of the routes.

 The problem began last Thursday when some filling stations started closing their stations under the pretext that there was no fuel.

But as at the weekend and Sunday, many of them shut down their stations, forcing prospective passengers to resort to trekking as both private and commercial vehicle owners were unable to get fuel.

Businessstandards checks on filling stations discovered that 90 percent of them were closed and some that opened sold a litre at N1000 while black marketers sold a litre for N1800.

Few vehicles were seen on the road while students who got stranded at terminus went back home even as some of them were sighted hopping into trucks to convey them to school.

Elizabeth Joseph, an undergraduate student at the University of Ilorin said, “Transportation from here to the University has changed from N200 to N400, only a few of us can afford it. Government should help us with this because it is affecting our academic programmes.”

Salman Ibrahim, a motorcycle rider said, “We don’t understand what caused the fuel problem. We couldn’t get it easily again despite how expensive it is. The little fuel I bought for N1000 per liter, once it finishes, I will go home.

Also speaking, Aminat Raji, lamented that ” the situation is terrible. I spent more than double what the transport fare used to cost me.

“The okada that took me from Omoda to Harmony Estate junction collected N500 but we used to pay N300 before. Everything is just upside down. We pray Allah intervenes and touches our leaders’ hearts.”

Another responder, Abdullah Mohammed said, “They are just punishing us for no reason. I wonder why the state government is keeping quiet. I have worked in filling stations before and during the last administration.

“The Nigeria Downstream and Midstream Regulatory Authority, (NMDPRA) will visit our station every first week of the month, they will check our nozzle, pump price, and ensure everything is in order. No filling station can extort the general public nor tell them no fuel when they have. Our leaders should do the needful, the situation is too tough.”

School management on Sunday announced, “We regret to tell our esteemed parents, and guardians that the school bus will not be in operation tomorrow for lack of fuel.

“However, the management is doing all possibilities to resolve the situation. Please endeavour to bring your wards to the school on Monday. Thank you for the usual support and understanding.”

Meanwhile, Kofoworola Adekunle, Assistant Manager, Total filling station at the post office explained that he heard a report on Monday morning (9:55 am)  that loading is taking place at the depots, but they are meant for distribution in Abuja and Lagos. So, I don’t know when it will be our turn.

“We have irregular fuel supply and when supply is low; it will affect the distribution, and that is what we are witnessing now that there is no petrol to sell.

“I want to advise the people not to panic, the situation will improve this week.”

Marketers The National President of the Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), Billy Gillis-Harry, has blamed the fresh scarcity on a supply challenge from the major oil supplier in the country, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.

He made this known on Monday on Channels Television’s The Morning Brief breakfast programme.

 PETROAN boss, Billy Gillis-Harry, said the supply challenge has not been resolved though he acknowledged efforts by NNPC to solve the problem.

Gillis-Harry said, “NNPC has its own outlets that they also serve. So if they have some logistics issues, that will possibly be what is internal to NNPC. But as for us, PETROAN members, we can tell Nigerians for real that if we have petroleum products delivered to us, supply to us upon payment for those same products, we will supply to Nigerians.

“I would like to correct Nigerians that we retail outlet owners or marketers as they generally call all of us is the reason for this. We do not have any reason not to serve the public and we are willing to serve the public. All that is required is for us to have petroleum products delivered to us from NNPC and we will make sure that our retail outlets are open; some of them are even open for 24 hours.

“The challenge of logistics is only relevant to the NNPC retail outlets.”

Stranded Commuters, Long Queues

The fresh fuel scarcity has grounded many economic activities in states across the Federation as Nigerians queue up at filling stations nationwide.

While some motorists were lucky to get fuel at some retail outlets for between N700 and N,1200 per litre after hours of sweat and contest, others weren’t so lucky as many retail outlets were shut, with their excuse being supply challenge.

The shortage of the premium product saw black marketers selling petrol for as high as N2,000 per litre in states.

Snake-like queues at filling stations in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano, Benue, Sokoto, and other places have worsened the traffic situation in the states as the long queues spilt on major roads, hindering vehicular movement just as thousands of people were stranded at bus stops with transport fares doubling the previous amounts

Though many outlets owned by independent oil marketers remained shut, checks by our correspondent in Lagos showed that NNPC retail outlets sell petrol at N568 per litre but not many motorists could survive the unending queues and jostling for sometimes six hours to get the premium product.

Meanwhile, the NNPC Limited on it X handle was advising Nigerians with a message:  “Fuel Your Monday with NNPC Retail and let your ambitions drive you higher all week long”

Last Thursday, NNPC spokesman, Olufemi Soneye, said the “tightness in the supply of Premium Motor Spirit currently being experienced in some areas across the country is as a result of logistics issues and that they have been resolved”. The NNPC also said the prices of petroleum products won’t change and urged Nigerians to avoid panic buying as there was sufficient product in the country.

Last May, President Bola Tinubu removed the subsidy on petrol with the pump price of the product jumping from about N184 to about N600 per litre. The move aimed at the deregulation of the oil sector has inflicted untold hardship on Nigerians with the prices of basic commodities going through the roof.

High-cost-of-living protests subsequently broke out across the country, with labour unions demanding a new minimum wage for workers to cope with the inflationary pressure. The government has continued to placate citizens with the introduction of palliatives — as interim interventions — and encouraging them to endure the pain of the moment.

On Sunday, the President defended his action again when he told world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that his administration’s decision to remove the petrol subsidy was very necessary to prevent the country from going bankrupt.

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