The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has raised the alarm, accusing depot owners in Ijegun, Apapa and Tin Can Island, all in Lagos State, of frustrating efforts of the federal government by selling petrol to retailers at N220 per litre, against the approved N172 ex-depot price.
IPMAN’s National Operations Controller, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, made the allegation during a phone chat with THISDAY, however, stating that only Emadeb Energy Limited complies with the N172 ex-depot price approved by the government.
Osatuyi also alleged that the depot owners carry out the anti- regulation practice through underground arrangements with their customers, saying they were not cooperating with the government in the efforts to address the ongoing scarcity of fuel in the country.
He said the depot owners in question belong to the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), adding that such anti-government practice had made the interventions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) not to be felt in the pump prices of petrol.
Despite a rash of measures by the government and stakeholders in the petroleum products supply and distribution system to address the lingering petrol scarcity in the country, Nigerians were yet to see a marked improvement.
The product has remained scarce and still selling above N250 per litre in some locations in the country, especially at retail outlets owned by IPMAN and DAPPMAN members.
The government had in January secretly adjusted the pump price to N185 per litre, from the previous N165. But one can only get it at that price at filling stations owned by NNPC and marketing companies under the aegis of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Most marketers and policy analysts had fingered subsidy and high cost of renting Daughter vessels as the main cause of the product scarcity and price hike.
However, Osatuyi said if depot owners comply with the government’s N220 ex-depot price, the pump price of petrol would fall further down at their retail outlets.
He had told journalists in Lagos, during a recent oversight tour of depots in Ijegun, that IPMAN members would only guarantee selling petrol at government’s regulated pump price when depot owners sell to them at N172 ex-depot price.
“Though, with the product NNPC is giving to IPMAN directly now, it is forcing the prices to come down. But the prices could have come down further if other DAPPMAN members were cooperating but they are not.
“If DAPPMAN are selling to us at N220, what do you want us do? If they sell to us at N220, plus transport, how much will we sell at our filling stations? They are not cooperating.
“You said our stations are still selling at N250, N260. Depot owners are the ones frustrating government’s effort. It’s not only Ijegun. All the depot owners in Apapa, Coconut are selling at that N220”, he added.
But when contacted for his reaction, the General Manager, AA RANO Terminals, Mr. Mohammed Koki, dissociated his company from the IPMAN’s allegation, saying his company had always complied with government’s approved ex-depot price even before the scarcity broke out.
He said his company was just managing to get products for its stations across the country and has none to sell to IPMAN, let alone selling to them at N220, adding that they currently retail their products through AA RANO filling stations in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano.
“What IPMAN said is absolute fallacy, absolute false. Well, we are expecting the second vessel in our facility. Ninety-five per cent of what we receive goes to Kaduna, Abuja, Kano. We consume our own products, it’s not even enough for us to even sell.
“Even before scarcity, we have been complying with government’s regulated price.
“At the moment, we are managing to load from MRS Tin Can to Abuja, Kaduna, Kano. That product was given to us by NNPC Retail to at least reduce the pressure and the scarcity. So, somebody that was assisted, how can he be assisting someone?”, Koki explained.
Also, when contacted to get the regulator’s position on the allegation by IPMAN, the Southwest Zonal Coordinator, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Mr. Ayo Cardoso, promised to look into the matter.
“From the information on my desk, a lot of them are doing it but they said they are selling it to their stations. We have depot reps everywhere and they are not reporting it that they are doing it underground. But we will look into it”, Cardoso told THISDAY.