- Product racketeering worsens, sells at N180 per litre
The official price of kerosene will move up to N135 from N73 per litre on Monday, THISDAY investigation revealed wednesday.
According to reliable sources, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has decided to increase the ex-depot price to N135 per litre with effect from Monday, after the next consignment of about 17,000MT capacity imported vessel arrives Lagos this week.
THISDAY gathered that following foreign exchange crisis, which makes it difficult for the private marketers to access foreign exchange at the official price, the PPMC assumed the sole importer of kerosene, thus leading to the scarcity of the product.
But THISDAY learnt that the public who are the end users would not be losing much as the product had always sold above the N73 official price because of racketeering by officials of PPMC and the marketers.
In the massive scam, officials of PPMC allocate the product to marketers at ex-depot price of N73 per litre, while the marketers sell to the public at over N180 per litre, THISDAY’s investigation revealed.
In a circular number: PPMC/MKT/IBN/01/2016, signed by one LNS Madubuike, the PPMC had directed marketers to pay N73 per litre for kerosene imported by the company. The marketers, however, sell the product to the public at between N180 and N250 per litre.
Some independent marketers, who could not get allocation from the PPMC, told THISDAY that some officials of PPMC collect bribe of N1 million on every truck of kerosene allocated to the marketers.
Another alleged scam by PPMC officials in kerosene importation, it was learnt, is that up to 50 trucks are not discharged in every imported vessel.
According to a PPMC source, after discharging kerosene to the private marketers, this quantity is left in the vessel by PPMC as Remain on Board (ROB) and nobody knows what happens to this product.
NNPC’s spokesman, Mr. Garuba Deen Muhammadu, however, told THISDAY yesterday that he would find out the true situation from the PPMC before responding to the issues raised.
But it was gathered that PPMC has been the sole importer of kerosene as the private marketers use their limited foreign exchange to focus on the importation of petrol.
An official of PPMC, who was not happy with the fraud in kerosene allocation, said that it was brisk business between some officials of the company and the marketers.
“We thought that things will change with the new administration. It actually changed initially but is now business-as-usual. It does not serve public interest to allocate kerosene at N73 or N135 per litre to some people at public expense and the beneficiaries will sell to the public at N180 and even N250 in some instances. This arrangement serves private pockets and something has to be done fast about it,” he said.
Investigation revealed that from the last consignment imported by the PPMC, the independent marketers were selling at ex-depot price of between N170 and 182 per litre.
Some of the independent marketers whose depots had sold kerosene between N170 and N182 per litre include: Capital Oil, Eterna Oil; Rahamaniyya, Aquitane, AA Rano, and Obat Oil.
It was also gathered from PPMC sources that Honeywell, Aiteo and NIPCO Plc would share the next consignment of PPMC’s kerosene that will arrive this week.
However, it was gathered that PPMC has increased the ex-depot price of this new consignment from N73 per litre to N135 per litre.
It was also learnt that because of the scam perpetrated by the marketers and the PPMC officials in kerosene allocation, the major marketers have shunned kerosene business to protect their business integrity.
“The whole kerosene thing is messy and that is why the major marketers do not want to get involved. The major marketers are not ready to give anybody bribe and sell above stipulated price. The whole thing improved when President Buhari came in initially. You will recall that Forte Oil became involved and it sold kerosene at N50 per litre to the public and it was publicised. But now, we are back to the status quo and the whole thing has become messy. The major marketers are not ready to play ball to get kerosene allocation,” said one of the major marketers, who spoke to THISDAY off the record.
At the early stage of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Forte Oil had commenced the sale of what it described as “Buhari Kerosene” at N50 per litre in its retail outlets in Lagos.