Lagos state and its environs experienced fuel shortage on Sunday, as many petrol stations shut down their operations and turned away motorists and other customers.
The scarcity, which had affected Abuja and its surroundings last week, was blamed on poor road conditions and high transportation costs by the oil dealers.
However, a survey by Vanguard revealed that most of the independent and major oil marketers were not in service over the weekend, leaving only the NNPC Limited to cater for the demand in most parts of Lagos visited.
Sources said that NNPC Limited was the sole importer of the product, as other operators could not import petrol due to market instability and foreign exchange scarcity, which had pushed the informal exchange rate to over N1,000/dollar.
The President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, told Vanguard on phone yesterday that measures had been taken to resolve the situation.
He said: “Stakeholders have been meeting and measures have been taken to enable oil marketers to access foreign exchange at a rate that will not disturb the current price of the product.”
However, checks by Vanguard in Abuja showed that most major marketers which were opened have hiked their pump price from N615 per liter to N625 per litre.
Similarly, the Public Relations Officer, of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, had said: “The issue we have is that most of the private depots have gone out of stock because they get supply from NNPCL. Since NNPC is the sole importer, these private depots that independents buy products from also depend on the NNPC for their supplies. This arrangement is also encouraging profiteering.
“We have been finding it very difficult to pick products from NNPC in the past five days and that is why you are seeing the skeletal scarcity. It is not major yet. The important point here is that despite the deregulation, NNPC is still the sole importer of PMS and no other depot is importing.
“Some of the portals owned by NNPC have shut down and are no longer issuing authority to lift to marketers in some of their portals. This significantly shows that there is a gap in the chain of supply. But I was reassured by the MD of NNPC that they are expecting products and they will feed us very soon.
“I want to state that NNPC prices have not changed and they are still selling at N577.6/litre as ex-depot price”, he added
Similarly, Mr. Benneth Korie, the President of NOGASA, the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria, cautioned that the country’s downstream sector was facing severe challenges as many stations were closing down due to difficult operating conditions.
Korie pointed out that “depot owners are so terribly affected by the increasing cost of the crude and exchange rate to the extent that many depots are practically deserted as their owners are unable to secure bank loans to fund their business due to high-interest rates.