The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) appears to have turned a blind eye as private Oil Marketing & Trading (OM & T) companies hike the ex-depot price and official pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), above the official prices and still receive subsidy from the Federal Government, THISDAY has gathered.
The prevailing expected market price of imported petrol is N144.66 per litre, according to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
However, the private marketers and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are paid subsidy of N47.66 per litre to sell at official pump price of N97 at the filling stations.
The NNPC and the depot owners are also mandated to sell at ex-depot price of N87.66 per litre at the depots, so that the products could be sourced at N97 at the pumps.
But THISDAY’s investigation has revealed that apart from the NNPC, which sells petrol at the official ex-depot price of N87.66 per litre, all the major and independent private marketers sell at ex-depot price of between N94.50 and N99 per litre.
Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Stanley, told THISDAY yesterday that the situation was caused by supply challenges, which will be resolved when all the marketers that legitimately and genuinely imported products are fully paid subsidy claims.
Stanley stated that for the first time in history, the country’s budget was passed before the beginning of the year, under President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration, adding that this feat and the recent supplementary budget passed for payment of subsidy will address the challenges in fuel supply.
He however stated that it was not the statutory responsibility of the PPPRA to enforce petrol price.
“The law gives the DPR the right to enforce prices at both the depots and the pumps. Having said that, the challenge we have is that the moment there is fuel supply shock, people start doing all sorts of things. It is a problem of demand and supply. That is why we should pay those who legitimately brought in products so that there will be products everywhere. But when only few people are selling, it becomes the survival of the fittest,” he said.
THISDAY however gathered that the DPR, which is apparently weighed down by its lack of capacity to bring the powerful depot owners to book, appears to be overwhelmed by the situation.
When contacted, a Deputy Director and spokesperson of the DPR, Mrs. Belema Osibodu told THISDAY that officials of the agency normally go into the depots to enforce the official price.
“The downstream people normally go out to monitor the depots and some of the actions taken are not known to the press. The fact that the press does not know some of the actions being taken by the DPR doesn’t mean that nothing is being done about the situation,” she said.
However, another top official of the agency told THISDAY that closing down erring depots would create serious crisis in the current fuel supply situation in the country, which he described as complex.
“The fuel situation is very complex now and it is not easy for us to go about closing down depots,” he added.
THISDAY gathered that rather than bring the powerful depot owners to book and enforce official price at the depots, the regulatory agency in most cases, clamp down on small filling stations that sell above the pump price.
The hike in ex-depot price, it was learnt, has made it difficult for products to be sold at N97 per litre in most filling stations across the country.
It was also gathered that only the NNPC and the major marketers – MRS, Conoil, Forte Oil, Oando, Mobil, and Total, as well very few independent marketers sell at the official pump price of N97 per litre.
However, it is only filling stations located mostly in high-brow areas of Lagos and Abuja that sell PMS at N97 per litre.
In Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, for instance, only the NNPC mega stations sell at N97 per litre, while other stations sell at N110 and above.
Filling stations in Port Harcourt, Rivers State sell at N110 and N115 per litre, against the official price of N97.
Apart from the NNPC stations that sell at normal price in Umuahia, Abia State, private marketers sell at between N110 and N120.
THISDAY also gathered that petrol is sold at N120 per litre in most filling stations inside Yenegoa, Bayelsa State and around N140 in other towns surrounding the state capital.
In Warri, Delta State, petrol is sold at between N120 and N110 per litre, as most of the major marketers that sell at normal price do not have products, according to investigations.
In Asaba, however, it is sold at between N97 and N115 per litre.