By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Chief Operating Officer, Downstream Division of the Nigerian National Corporation, Mr. Ikem Obih, has disclosed that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has negotiated a workable solution to address the challenges of accessing foreign exchange for the importation of petrol by oil marketers.
This solution, he explained to reporters yesterday, would include international oil companies (IOCs) working in conjunction with the NNPC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide forex to marketers for the importation of petrol.
“It is still work in progress and we are working extremely hard to ensure we eliminate the queues. What we have seen today is encouraging but we are still not there.
“For us, we will get there when we go into the service stations and within a couple of minutes you can buy fuel; that is the objective for us,” Obih said.
He added: “As you know, forex was one of the prime reasons we didn’t do well in the first quarter, as most marketers who had allocations couldn’t import because they couldn’t access forex.
“What the minister has done now is to work very closely through his own initiative with the upstream oil companies. So we have a number of them on board and they will support the local entities to help provide forex for them to import and meet their PPPRA allocations.
“And so, through the central bank, NNPC would support the importation of fuel in the second quarter and these oil companies too will work with us. This combined effort, we hope, will help us meet 100 per cent of import allocations in the Q2,” he said.
Obih added: “We have talked in the past about starting the direct sales-direct purchase initiative: In this regard, we are working with the best refining and trading companies around the world to help source fuel in a timely manner.
“A lot of the work we are doing now, together with the marketers under the PPPRA arrangement, is to ensure that we plan supplies into Nigeria in a way that ensures that we have sustainable inflow in the market to avoid gaps which lead to scarcity.”
On the refineries, he said: “Most of the work at the refineries are on-site, getting them to begin to crack fuel so that they can begin to contribute to the amount of pool we have to distribute. It is our goal that within the month of April, we will have some local refining contribute to our mix.”
He stated that NNPC had put in place the necessary measures which it would use to import and supply petrol into the country during the second quarter of the year.
Parts of the measures include the deployment of its newly created direct sales-direct purchase initiative to fulfill its share of the allocation.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had allocated the NNPC 41.73 per cent of total fuel imports, while oil marketers got 58.27 per cent of imports.
Obih however said when he inspected petrol filling stations in Abuja, he noted that the corporation had taken care of issues that disrupted its successful implementation of first quarter fuel imports, adding that it would do better in the second quarter.
He also explained that as part of the measures, NNPC expects that within the month of April, the country’s refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna would begin to contribute to fuel domestic supply, adding that this would increasingly become available to meet subsequent PPPRA allocations to the state-run oil firm.