GMD NNPC, Andrew Yakubu
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) has not been shut down for routine maintenance work.
The NNPC in a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday by its acting Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Fidel Pepple, stated that the refinery was up and running and had no maintenance issues to warrant its shut down.
Pepple said the clarification was necessary to stem the anxiety generated by media reports, which indicated that the Warri Refinery had been shut down for a routine maintenance that would last for about 21 days.
He said: “There is no iota of truth in that report. The Warri Refinery is up and running; the day-to-day operations report from the refinery shows that it is producing at 63 per cent of its installed capacity, even on Christmas Day when THISDAY ran the report, the plant was running. The plant has no immediate maintenance issues that would require it to be shut down for 21 days as reported.”
While urging the public to discountenance the report, Pepple, however, explained that the NNPC was doing everything within its powers to ensure all-round products availability during the festive season, adding that accurate verification of information from relevant authorities would help to curtail panic buying of fuel as well as douse an already tensed situation in the fuel supply and distribution chain.
Meanwhile, THISDAY checks revealed that as the yuletide celebration was on, there were still long queues of vehicles waiting to buy petrol from most major filling stations within Abuja metropolis.
The queues, which were significantly obvious at filling stations that include some of the NNPC mega stations came on the heels of an earlier assurance by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, that there would be adequate supply of petroleum products during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Alison-Madueke had stated a fortnight ago that measures had been put in place to ensure that motorists enjoy a yuletide season that would be devoid of fuel scarcity.
She had said at the 2013 budget defence before the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committees on Petroleum Resources: “Now that the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, fuel subsidy report has been verified and completed, payments are already beginning to go to marketers and you can see that fuel queues are lessening across the country, we will then begin to push for more supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.”
The visit to petrol stations around town showed that motorists in most cases still struggle to buy petrol from stations that are open for business and sell at official pump price of N97 per litre, while the illegal ‘black market’ trade in petrol still thrives side by side in the city despite a monitoring and enforcement exercise initiated and executed by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) two weeks ago to clampdown on operators of the illicit trade.