The steps taken by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to rehabilitate its Enugu Depot will boost jobs and help sustain fuel supply in the South-east, writes Ejiofor Alike
A recent status report by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), showed that only few of the 21 NNPC depots were active.
The report had noted that these active depots were mainly the refineries, coastal depots and few other depots in the western part of the country.
Also only few segments out of 20 segments of the pipelines were available and these active segments were in the south west.
The report had also revealed that there were no butanisation plants for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), except in Apapa, while poor products accountability led to products gaps at the depots
According to the report, in-depot losses were also high due to obsolete facilities and inefficient operations, while the period was also characterised with long fuel queues at filling stations because of product scarcity.
With some of the depots in deplorable condition for years, and others shut down due to incessant attacks on pipelines that supply products to them, it became necessary for the PPMC to engage the services of private depots to enable bridging to inactive depots, especially to the Northern and South east regions.
NNPC has incurred huge bills in the use of private depots as the owners of the depots are paid daily for the use of their facilities to receive and store imported products.
By 2016, PPMC claimed that many of the 21 loading depots were active, while many of the segments were also active, with several kilometres out of the 5,120 kilometres of crude oil and products pipeline network available.
However, the situation on the ground, coupled with the traffic congestion caused by fuel tankers in Lagos contradicted PPMC’s claim that many depots were working.
Today, marketers from Enugu, Port Harcourt, Sokoto and Maiduguri still travel long distances to the Lagos depots to load petrol, thus causing damage on the roads, gridlock, accidents and loss of man-hours.
But a recent revelation that the rehabilitation of the Enugu Depot will be completed by April this year has rekindled the hope of restoring over 3,000 jobs lost as a result of the long inactivity of the depot.
PPMC had claimed that Enugu depot was also re-activated in 2014. The company had also claimed that Aba Depot, which was moribund for about seven years, was re-commissioned in 2012 after it had rehabilitated the PH-Aba segment, while the North western and North eastern depots of Kano and Gusau were said to have been re-activated after the company rehabilitated the Kaduna-Zaria-Kano and Kaduna-Zaria-Gasau pipelines segments.
However, despite these claims, most of these depots, including that of Enugu have been out of service for over 10 years.
Enugu depot, which was built in 1979, is one of the PPMC’s 21 depots and jetties across the country. The depot became inactive around 20 years ago following the vandalism of the pipelines through which it receives refined products from the Port Harcourt Refinery.
It stores Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or petrol, Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) and Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), which are loaded with tankers by over 500 marketers for distribution to Enugu, Anambra, Kogi, Ebonyi, Imo, Benue and Cross River States.
Since the depot, which can supply six million litres of petrol, two million litres of kerosene and two million of diesel daily, became inactive, marketers from the south eastern axis have been sourcing products from Lagos, Warri and Port Harcourt.
Apart from the attendant loss of jobs and the collapse of business activities around the depot, its inactivity has also contributed to the gridlock in Lagos roads, as well as accidents involving trucks on the highways. This development has also contributed to the damage on the roads by heavy duty vehicles and caused nightmare to other road users.
This is because tankers, which could have lifted petrol from the Enugu depot, travelled long distances to the depots in Lagos in search of product.
However, the National Coordinator of Anti-Pipeline Vandalism and Petroleum Products Adulteration, Mr. Nexin Udoka Ahanonu, reportedly said in Enugu recently that the rehabilitation of the pipelines had almost been completed.
“It has been work is in progress. In the past two weeks, we have been parading the pipelines. For more than 10 years now, we have not had supply to this depot. It has seriously affected those of us operating the depot. We have lost many of our members due to the unavailability of products in Enugu depot. Many of us have gone bankrupt because some of us are using bank loans to do business and since the depot stopped working, many of us are going as far as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri to source for products. In the process, most of us lost funds. Trucks were hijacked and what have you. Before the end of April next year, Enugu depot will start working,” he reportedly explained.
PPMC’s bogus claims
During the tenure of the past administration, PPMC had claimed that work had been completed at Mosimi, Calabar, Suleja, Minna, Kano, and Yola depots, while depot losses had been drastically reduced with fuel queues eliminated.
According to PPMC, Suleja and Minna depots were re-activated in 2011 with the rehabilitation of the Kaduna-Suleja-Minna pipelines segments linking them.
It also added that Jos depot was also activated with the purported recovery of Kaduna-Jos pipeline segment.
The company also claimed that Aba depot, which was moribund for about seven years was re-commissioned in 2012 after rehabilitating the PH-Aba segment.
Also the North western and North eastern depots of Kano and Gusau were re-activated after rehabilitating the Kaduna-Zaria-Kano and Kaduna-Zaria-Gasau pipelines segments, according to PPMC.
One of PPMC’s reports had also noted that in 2013, Benin and Gombe depots, which were out of service for over 10 years were equally re-activated after rehabilitating Warri-Benin and Jos-Gombe pipelines segments.
Over the years, some of the pipeline systems became unavailable, thus hindering smooth distribution of petroleum products.
According to PPMC, with the phased rehabilitation works, the pipelines were linked to their depots, with Kaduna-Suleja – Minna segments linking Kaduna to Suleja and Minna Depots in 2011,while in 2012, PH-Aba segment was said to have been linked to PH and Aba Depot.
Kaduna-Zaria-Kano and Kaduna-Zaria-Gasau pipelines segments linking Kaduna depot were also purportedly linked with Kano and Gusau depots, according to a claim by the PPMC.
In the area of LPG, the company had stated that Butanisation Plants in Kano, Enugu, Gusau and Gombe were rehabilitated in 2013 and re-commissioned with Apapa LPG Butanisation Plant upgraded.
Makurdi and Ilorin LPG Butanisation Plants were also said to have been re-commissioned in 2013. The company had also claimed that the high in-depot losses recorded due to inefficient operations as a result of obsolete depot facilities were reduced by 2014.
However, all these claims have not led to reduction in the number of trucks travelling from the far north to Lagos to load products.
Apart from active depots, the installation of digital loading meters also enhances accurate and effective loading and products accountability.
But most of the loading arms in the 21 Depots were installed with analogue meters, thus leading to inefficiency in products dispensing and poor products accountability. Tank gauging system was also inoperable at the depots, thus limiting inventory control to manual operations.
However, out of 296 installed analogue meters at the PPMC’s depots, the PPMC had commenced efforts to replace 167 of them with Accuload digital meters representing 56 per cent of installed capacity.
For instance, the installation of the digital meters had progressed if not completed in Satellite, Aba, Benin, Calabar depots; Mosimi, Calabar, Suleja, Minna, Kano, and Yola depots.
Also the company had started the replacement of other 123 meters during the tenure of the past administration.
Also under the past administration, PPMC had embarked on Phase I of the rehabilitation and upgrade of Tank gauging systems in 10 depots – Atlas cove, Satellite, Mosimi, Ore, Ibadan, Ilorin, Benin, Suleja, Escravos and Calabar.
THISDAY could not, however, ascertain the progress of work on most of these PPMC’s projects.
The May 2016 upward review of the price of petrol has stabilised supply and ensured product availability during Christmas. Previous Christmas and New Year celebrations were marred by acute fuel shortages, which disrupted movement of people and economic activities.
To sustain the current serenity in filling stations, the NNPC should rehabilitate all the 21 depots to reduce pressure on Lagos and also reduce the distances covered by marketers in search of product.