Major Oil Marketers Confirm Petrol Availability, Say 300m Litres for Distribution This Week

•IPMAN forum threatens strike over N200bn bridging debt 

•Says only N13bn paid despite minister’s directive

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Peter Uzoho in Lagos

Petroleum products dealers under the aegis of Major Energies Marketers Association of Nigeria (MEMAN) yesterday confirmed adequate products availability in the country, amid the current nationwide scarcity of petrol and resultant queues in filling stations.

The group specifically disclosed that they were taking product from right vessels this week with over 300 million litres of petrol, which they said was well above their members’ normal levels.

The Chairman of MEMAN and Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Retail Limited, Mr. Huub Stokman, announced this in a statement issued during the association’s virtual training programme.

Stokman expressed MEMAN’s empathy with Nigerians facing the challenges occasioned by the current situation and the resulting queues at many retail outlets, saying “We can see the frustration and difficulties this situation is creating”.

He said the downstream regulator, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and other key stakeholders across the supply chain were fully engaged and supportive to eliminate the queues as swiftly as possible.

“Our top priority is to restore stability and ensure that fuel supplies reach all depots and retail outlets across Nigeria promptly.

“While the current situation has been challenging, we want to reassure the public that there is an adequate supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) available. Our members in Apapa and other locations in Lagos are taking product from right vessels this week, with over 300 million litres of PMS, well above our normal levels,” Stokman stated.

He maintained that the association was actively coordinating with their member companies through swaps and other supply arrangements to ensure member stations remained stocked.

He assured that their members’ depots would extend their loading times to ensure they load out as much as they could, including up till today (May 1, 2024).

The MEMAN chairman informed that their partners in the National Road Transporters Organisation (NARTO) and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) had assured them of their support in ensuring that the  product get to the retail outlets safely and quickly.

Stokman added: “We also will extend the opening times of selected retail outlets to ensure we can service our customers as long and as safely possible.

 “Independent marketers (depots and stations) are being allocated additional PMS to alleviate the situation. We expect the situation to improve in the coming days as supply chains adjust and stabilise.

“MEMAN remains committed to keeping you informed and providing timely updates. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us through our official channels.”

Meanwhile, the Chairmen, Forum of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) yesterday threated to embark on a nationwide strike over the N200 billion petrol bridging debt owed by the government.

The group, comprising 21 depot heads, in a communiqué read by its spokesman, Oliver Okolo, in Abuja, stressed that despite repeated appeals, the authorities had failed to offset the arrears since September 2022.

Flanked by the Chairman of the forum, Yahaya Alhassan, Okolo maintained that the survival of its members’ businesses was no longer certain, arising from the failure to settle the outstanding payment, which he claimed had led to the death of many members.

He insisted that there was a deliberate refusal to offset the debt, alleging that some of the members of IPMAN had completely shut down their businesses and retrenched their workers due to inability to pay salaries.

Specifically, he said that despite a directive by the Minister of State, Petroleum (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri to the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to settle the outstanding bridging claim in 40 days from February, only N13 billion had been paid.

Okolo stated that members of the IPMAN forum acquired bank loans to keep their fuel retail outlets running, explaining however that it was demoralising to know that many of them had gone bankrupt.

He added that this is as a result of their inability to meet their financial obligations to their banks, revealing that consequently the banks had taken over the business premises of many of their members.

Okolo, who is also the unit chairman of the Aba depot, which serves the entire East, expressed displeasure that rather than receive support from the government to boost their businesses, they were being discouraged by the actions of the authorities.

“It is shameful to state that only the paltry sum of N13 billion has been paid, thus going the whole length to ignore our plight without remorse and without recourse to the minister’s directive.

“Before now, we had taken the honourable path to continually seek explanation from the NMDPRA, on why they have blatantly refused to offset the remaining debt, but we have ceaselessly met brick walls,” the group added.

The group further stated that it was not happy with the indiscriminate increment in the issuance and renewal of the sales and storage license and the subsequent delays in acquiring the license, which its members had been recently subjected to.

“As IPMAN members, we are also calling on President Bola Tinubu, to closely look into this unwholesome figure which is highly detrimental to our business and reverse it forthwith, as it is bound to impact negatively on the masses thereafter,” Okolo said.

According to him, there’s no reason why there should be an increment of over 500 per cent on the sales and storage license, explaining that it is detrimental to their businesses. “We totally reject it,” Okolo added.

He called on the federal government to intervene forthwith in the lingering issues between the (IPMAN) and the Authority.

“We are poised to take far reaching decisions that may cripple the supply and sales of petroleum products across Nigeria, if our demands are not met within the shortest period of time.

“ More so, this money in question that the marketers are asking for is our monies set aside, collected from us, and deducted from our own monies, to augment our transport fares.

“We are merely asking for the return of our monies. It is not a matter of government’s budget,” the group pointed out.

IPMAN stated that if the demands were not met within the shortest period of time, it had already put its members on standby across the nation, noting that as law abiding citizens, they were collectively prepared to withdraw their services.

In addition, the oil marketers vowed to close every single outlet, and suspend lifting of products forthwith till their demands are fully met, warning that the consequences will be terrible.

“We have taken every step in the past to salvage this unfortunate and looming situation, which we know will not augur well for Nigerians, but we are presently left with no option than to go all out in the next few days to address this ugly trend in our own way, which will portend great hardship and danger for Nigerians.

“We call on our members to however remain resolute and law abiding, even as we draw close to the immediate ultimatum for our demands to be met and addressed by the NMDPRA,” IPMAN said.

It said that it was pained by the non-availability of petroleum products in the country, which it said has given to the rise of another round of untold hardship on Nigerians.

“We would like to categorically state that the scarcity of PMS (petrol) products is wholly triggered by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and not by IPMAN or her members.

“Contrary to claims that IPMAN members are hoarding PMS products, we make bold to say that NNPC are the sole importers of PMS products, and therefore the sole cause of the present PMS scarcity in Nigeria,” the group said.

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