Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has asked an investigative committee of the House of Representative Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to shift its investigations on the influx of adulterated kerosene into the Nigerian market to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the petroleum industryâ€™s regulator.
Speaking at a recent two-day public hearing by the committee to address the challenges hampering kerosene availability and use in Nigeria, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the NNPC was only a market player and not a regulator in the sector.
His remarks were contained in a statement from NNPCâ€™s Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja.
Represented by NNPCâ€™s Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, the NNPC boss also stated that the corporation currently refines up to 60 per cent of the eight million litres of kerosene used every day in the country, leaving other marketers to import the balance of three million.
He explained the corporation also ensures that the processes of refining and distributing its kerosene were done with respect for standard industry protocols, adding that specifications provided by the Nigerian Institute of Standard (NIS) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) were also observed to avoid its subversion of safety in the use of its kerosene.
He noted that the kerosene and other petroleum products supplied by the NNPC were of high quality and meet safety standards. He added: â€œThe NNPC ensures that the entire refining output in Nigeria through its refineries in Port Harcourt; Warri; and Kaduna and any products imported by it to make up for market supply shortfalls meet the specifications of the Nigerian Institute of Standard (NIS) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).â€
According to Baru, the NNPC would not compromise safety and quality in its products and processes. He maintained that all its depots in the country had laboratories for quality checks to ensure safety of consumers.
He stated that in keeping with its commitment to the safety of consumers of petroleum products, the corporation investigated the recent kerosene explosion in Calabar and could not trace the truck that delivered the adulterated product in any of its depots loading schedule.
He thus advised the legislators to contact the DPR which he said is the regulator to investigate the source of the adulterated kerosene among the private depots.
He also called on relevant authorities to empower the DPR to carry out its responsibilities more diligently by ensuring that petroleum products imported by marketers meet the required quality and safety standards because the NNPC cannot guarantee the quality of products imported by other operators.
â€œThe quality of kerosene being sold to the general public require regular inspection to ensure that it meets health; safety; environment; and quality standards at all times to avert any regulatory breaches or threat to lives and properties of the general public and consumers of the products,â€ Baru stated.
On the corporationâ€™s kerosene supplies, he noted that outputs from NNPCâ€™s three refineries in Kaduna; Warri; and Port Harcourt now takes up 60 per cent of the daily market need which represents five million litres.
The balance of three million litres of the product, he explained are being imported by private petroleum products marketers.
Speaking in the statement, chair of the committee, Hon. Joseph Akinlaja, stated that it was deeply concerned about high cost of kerosene in the market as well as incessant explosion due to adulteration.
Akinlaja, noted that the committee was mandated by the House of Representatives to, among other things, work out a clear cut policy framework on deregulation of kerosene to avert the current challenges faced by the poor masses in procuring the product; arrest the resurgence of kerosene explosion with attendant fatalities; and investigate the disappearance of N11b billion worth of petroleum product belonging to the NNPC.