Orji Kalu Declares Senate Presidency Ambition, Says ‘It’s My Turn’
PDP Rejects Suspension of Enugu Governorship Election Results Collation
Youths Group Advocates Power Rotation for Fairness, Justice in Kogi
NNPC: Lingering Fuel Scarcity Not Deliberate Attempt to Influence, Scuttle Elections
*Kyari insists there’s no fuel shortage, only distribution issues
*MOMAN: National oil company alone cannot meet petrol demands of all Nigerians
*Says entrepreneurs need incentives to participate in supply chain
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Peter Uzoho
In a veiled response to the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) yesterday said it stands to benefit nothing by wanting to create artificial fuel scarcity to influence the oncoming general election.
But as Nigerians continue to groan over the lingering petrol scarcity and queues at filling stations, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) has said NNPC lacks the capacity to supply and distribute the volume of petrol that would serve all Nigerians.
Tinubu had in an outburst during his campaign trail, insinuated that the current problems besetting the country, including petrol scarcity and naira shortages were done to hobble his chances of winning the presidential poll.
But the Group Executive Officer of the NNPC, who spoke on the state-owned Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), argued that the nationwide petrol scarcity was not new and wasn’t targeted at anyone.
According to him, the shortage of the product began in 2022 and had continued intermittently despite efforts to curb it.
He reiterated there was no supply problem in the system, but said the market dynamics in terms of logistics and handling charges have changed, thereby affecting prices.
He explained that to deliver Nigeria’s daily 60 million litres consumption, there has to be at least 1,800 tankers on the road daily which may take up to seven days to get to their destinations. Kyari stated that there’s no scarcity of fuel, stressing that the situation has been further compounded by consumer behaviour and panic buying.
He highlighted the current attempts to end the fuel queues, stressing that prices would soon crash at the depots to ensure normalcy.
According to him, Nigeria’s current fuel consumption accounts for about 70 per cent of the entire West African sub-region.
The GCEO said while the West African region would have been a huge market, the arbitrage being created by differences in prices was making things difficult for the industry.
“There’s greed across the value chain,” he stated.
Kyari stated that the initial design of the petrol pipelines was such that no truck would move beyond 400km, but that the Jesse fire in Delta made it impossible to pump petrol from Warri to Benin and then Ore.
As for the atlas cove, he said the NNPC was losing 24 per cent of its products due to activities of vandals and had to be shut down, while Port Harcourt to Aba was also losing much before it was shut down.
He added that due to the age of the pipeline and the shallowness of the facilities, it was important to rebuild them under the Build, Operate and Transfer method.
“I do not think anybody sits down to orchestrate that there should be scarcity so that it will impact elections and so on. I don’t think it happens that way if it is so. But it is not true because the reality is that these glitches actually started early in 2022.
“It has nothing to do with this election period. Once you have a challenge of this nature, it is a cyclical thing. Once you have this challenge, they continue to come up, and then once you have arbitrage issues, you have this glitch.
“Today, our redundancy in terms of petroleum products supply is just three days in this country. Once you have a glitch that extends longer than three days, you need another three weeks to stabilise it. So irrespective of who does what, whatever causes the three-day glitch, it is a nightmare waiting to happen.
“Once we see this glitch, that is why we do everything possible to avoid the glitches from happening. I do not think anyone will sit down and say let us create this so that there will be an impact on the elections and so on.
“There is no benefit in it. No one would do this and I can tell you this very clearly that there is no one issue that bothers the president like this. There is no briefing that I do to the president that he does not mention this,” Kyari stated.
He explained said it was impossible to link petrol shortage to the elections, noting that NNPC was doing everything in its power to control the situation.
“Yes, there are a lot of glitches. There are a lot of logistics and nightmares. Greed has come into play. There are cross-border issues that we have to deal with. There are international market situations that you have to deal with,” he said.
Kyari maintained that Nigeria has enough stock in-country, but added that distribution was a major challenge.
“We do not have a supply problem because as we speak now, we have over 28 days of supply even if we evacuate up to 60 million litres of PMS every day. We have a distribution problem that comes up as a result of the shift in the cost of logistics in our business taking fuel from the mother vessels to the terminals into trucks to the fuel stations.
“Several things have changed and we do not have an automatic adjustment system that will resolve this as a result of the fuel subsidy regime we are currently operating in the country. However, fuel subsidy payments are understandable to protect consumers from the vagaries of market forces,” he noted.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, stated that there’s about 28 days offshore capacity while there’s 12 days onshore, stressing that there has been an increase in charges to move vessels from offshore to onshore from about $19,000 to $60,000 per day in some locations.
He stated that there have been glitches on the road, including accidents which created huge gaps and by extension, arbitrage. He noted that tens of filling stations that flouted the rules had been shut down.
MOMAN: NNPC Alone Cannot Supply All Petrol Needed by Nigerians
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, during a phone chat with THISDAY, explained that the NNPC was challenged by insufficient storage and distribution facilities that would enable it supply products to marketers.
Isong, who pointed out that entrepreneurs needed incentives to participate in the downstream oil and gas supply chain in the country and help address the disruption in supply and distribution, however, assured that the fuel scarcity and queues might ease in few weeks’ time if all the players comply with the rules agreed at the stakeholder meeting held on Tuesday at the instance of the NNPC.
At the meeting held in Abuja, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, had told the participants that the government was not handicapped in halting the fuel crisis, threatening to use military sanctions on marketers causing the artificial scarcity and pains on Nigerians.
Also, Kyari had equally stated at the meeting that the challenge was monumental and was taking unanticipated dimensions, maintaining that the issue was not a supply problem.
But speaking with THISDAY, the MOMAN Executive Secretary noted that NNPC had brought all the products the country needs but that most them were offshore, adding that solving the fuel crisis need the cooperation from many operators in the system, with right incentives and right business environment.
Isong said, “The truth of the matter is that NNPC by itself cannot supply the entire Nigerian market. They have brought all the products the country needs, most of it is offshore. It is challenged. Distribution in the country is such that NNPC cannot bring all of it onshore by itself –use its own facilities and distribute to the Nigeria public. They need cooperation from very many operators in the system.
“So, it needs the entrepreneurs –people who will go and buy the product, pay for it, hire daughter vessels to go and pick it from the mother vessels and bring them onshore. It needs operators in the market who own depot facilities. Many of the NNPC depot facilities which were connected to the pipelines are either non-functional or insufficient.
“The Atlascove which is connected only by a pipeline system is not functional because people along the pipeline have made holes along the pipelines. The Warri Refinery, Port Harcourt Refinery are not functional but they have depots there, but those facilities are not sufficient. So, it needs to then hire facilities from depot owners along the coast, or depot owners will go and buy from the NNPC vessels and put in their facilities to distribute.”
He further said the situation also required transporters and entrepreneurs to buy trucks, maintain those trucks and take the products to the filling stations for distribution to Nigerians, maintaining that the situation also requires the filling stations to cooperate and sell the product at the right prices to Nigerians.
Unlike the threats of military sanctions on marketers by Irabor and the Department of State Security (DSS), the MOMAN CEO said, “these are not things you can force people to do. People will only do them if the incentive is right; if the business environment is right, if the return on investment is right. It’s not something you do buy force.”
Currently, according to him, the legal structure in operation in the downstream sector was the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) but that the downstream market was not operating under that legal structure as petrol prices were still being set by government in breach of the law.
Arguing that if marketers bring the product and were not recovering their costs and that their money served them better elsewhere, there would not be entrepreneurs that would be incentivized to participate in the business.
Isong, who called for a level of volunteerism and incentivisation in the downstream business, added that all stakeholders must come to the table and agree to play their part in the business.
That, he explained, was what the stakeholders’ meeting was about, “it was arriving at what was reasonable for all the players in the supply chain to participate and play their role in the supply chain and to agree the level of incentives that would make them play that role fairly. So, at the end of the meeting, everybody pretty much agreed to abide by the rules as we agreed.”
According to him, “if those rules are sufficiently incentivising, what we expect is that over the next few days, people will go and start hiring vessels again, which they had stopped hiring, to go and start collecting products from the outside storage to put it through their depots. The trucks that had stop coming or that had gone to other places, will start coming back to do business.
“And then, it will make sense to sell petrol through filling stations again, rather than selling in jerry cans. Everybody will come to the business and the price will come down because people are properly incentivised to do the marketing in the correct way.”
He explained that the rules established at the Tuesday stakeholders’ meeting were rules about handling of the product and about maximum cost that could be borne along the supply chain.
Isong further said, “The vessel cost is much, so we agreed that the vessels must not cost much. The transport cost must not cost much. It’s just an agreement as to the handshake in the supply chain to make sure that everybody plays his role efficiently and properly incentivise or motivate us.”
He, however, assured that if all players cooperate, the petrol scarcity and queues would ease in the next few weeks.
On whether the body language of the federal government was telling them that the government was seriously preparing to achieve the June target for subsidy removal, the MOMAN CEO, said the industry stakeholders and government were basically trying to keep the system going until subsidy removal.
“We are trying to put together a regime that will survive until subsidy is removed. So, to me, the meeting was all positive, positive. It was agreed that if anybody misbehaves, then he is on his own. What happens to him is his fault. Everybody should play by the rules that were freely and openly negotiated on Tuesday,” he added.