Ejiofor Alike

The lingering fuel shortages worsened at the weekend as most independent marketers have exhausted their stock of petrol, while the major marketers were selling to only their retail outlets, THISDAY has learnt.

With the public holiday declared on Friday, it was learnt that no depot loaded petrol, thus further tightening the supply situation at the weekend.

THISDAY gathered that on Thursday, there was no petrol at the depots of Sahara Energy, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, AA Rano, Ascon, AZ, Bovas, D Jones, Eurafric, Eterna Oil, Fatgbems, Global Fleet, Gulf Treasure, Hensmor, Honeywell, Ibakem, Ibeto, Index, Obat Oil, Rahamaniyya, and Swift Petroleum.

While Aquatane, Ascon, Folawiyo and AZ were selling kerosene on Thursday, Integrated Oil, Index and MRS sold both kerosene and diesel.

Capital Oil, Eterna Oil, Gulf Treasure, Ibakem and Stallonire were also selling diesel.

THISDAY gathered that only Capital Oil, Heyden Petroleum, Folawiyo and MRS had stock of petrol on Thursday.

With this development, marketers who managed to source product from the few depots that had stock of petrol at normal price, sold to third parties at very exorbitant ex-depot prices of between N113 and N119 per litre.

This has made the queues at filling stations to stretch longer and longer at the weekend with prices ranging between N110 to N120, except the major marketers, who sold at normal price.

It was also gathered that some independent marketers who open their retail outlets only at night, sell at even N140 per litre and above.

Some of the marketers, who spoke to THISDAY, said the supply was very tight at the weekend with the public holiday declared on Friday worsening the situation as no depot loaded in Lagos on that day.

THISDAY gathered that a vessel, MT ALIZEA brought in about 30,000MT of petrol for NNPC on Saturday, which was shared by NIPCO Plc, Aiteo and Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc but it was still a drop in the ocean.

Another marketer, who spoke about the fuel situation, insisted that some marketers would continue to profiteer under the situation so long as scarcity persisted.

“Once there is scarcity, there will be profiteering and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Kachikwu started by directing DPR to sell people’s product for free when they were cut cheating but where did it take us to? Cheating continues and it can only stop when the system is flooded with product,” explained one of the marketers.

After weeks of promises by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary, Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), on their capacity to meet domestic demand for petrol and end the fuel shortages, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, admitted last week that there was no quick fix to the perennial problem.

The minister, who spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari met with him and the leadership of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), said it was a sheer magic to achieve the present level of supplies of fuel by the NNPC alone.

Under the present circumstances, NNPC has been forced to resort to crude oil swaps, which the minister previously said the government would end, in the hope that at least 50 per cent of domestic demand is met, but would not see the back of fuel queues.