The Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd, Mele Kyari, has apologised to Nigerians over the hardship of the current fuel scarcity.
Kyari made the apology when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) on Wednesday.
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The GMD also assured that the company will inject 2.5 billion litres of petroleum into the nation’s supply chain to end the current scarcity in the country. The committee, following a resolution of the House, is investigating the circumstances surrounding the importation of petrol with high methanol content leading to an acute fuel shortage in the country.
Kyari said the scarcity was not anticipated as the cargoes with the high methanol content were the root of the scarcity.
According to him, the withdrawal of the five cargoes created a gap that generated a shortfall in supply.
He, however, noted that the company had imported enough quantity that will close the gap and restore supply.
The GMD said: “Eight months ago, it was impossible for somebody to blend methanol into gasoline meant for Nigeria because methanol is more expensive than naphthalene which is used for blending gasoline.
“In the current situation, there is price differential which makes methanol cheaper than naphthalene which they use to blend and get commercial value. I don’t know what the case is, but these are the two instances in which someone can blend methanol.
“I can assure you that we have taken every necessary step to ensure that we maintain supply sufficiency. Let me tell Nigerians that we have a robust supply plan.
“By the end of this month, we will have about 2.5 billion litres of PMS.
“What we call panic-buying is a situation where people who usually go to the filling station to buy N2,000 worth of petrol now buy five times that volume and those with more than one car will bring out all their cars; that is why you see all these cars in the filling stations and it creates supply disruption.
“We are assuring Nigerians that we have a robust supply plan and there is no need to bring out all your cars from the house. Just buy what you need because there are plans to address the situation.”
The GMD noted that Nigeria is still facing challenges in its petroleum industry as a result of wanton sabotage and total reliance on imports.
“First, we import all the gasoline that we consume in this country. Every petroleum product that we consume in this country is not locally produced except in few quantities,” he stated.
However, a member of the committee, Adediji Olamide, faulted the NNPC over the methanol incident, saying, it failed in its responsibility as the apex agency in the petroleum sector.
He said: “Ignorance is not an excuse in law. We are in a situation where all Nigerians are suffering as a result of an oversight or as a result of an unspecified request from NNPC to all the companies that are the importers of the cargo.”
Responding, the GMD said, “This terminal has been supplying billions of litres of gasoline into the country for several years. It is a major terminal that supplies not only West Africa but also a major part of Europe. It has been supplying products to this country.
“Also, all the products they have supplied have always met the specification and I don’t know why the supply of this particular product because you will never expect any adulterated supply from this terminal.”
In his address earlier, the chairman of the committee, Abdullahi Mahmoud, said the House had at plenary expressed concern over the fuel scarcity and mandated the committee to investigate the matter.
MOMAN to start 24-hour service to end scarcity
Members of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) have appealed to members of the public to stop panic buying.
This is even as they promised to commence 18 to 24 hours sale to end the scarcity of the product currently being witnessed in major cities across the nation.
It reached this decision at the end of a critical meeting held yesterday in Lagos to deliberate on the issue.
The marketers, in a statement signed by their chairman, Olumide Adeosun, said they are working with the regulatory authorities and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) towards a resolution of the current fuel crisis.
Adeosun said MOMAN’s experts are active contributors to the technical and commercial committees set up by the regulatory authorities to restock fuel supplies, resolve the blending of contaminated products and identify losses suffered by customers, operators and third parties.
He said MOMAN’s committee of chemists is also working with designated laboratories to double-check the quality of products (re-blended or new) before they are released into the fuel supply chain.
“Towards this purpose, MOMAN members shall extend opening hours of jetties, depots and filling stations to a minimum of 18 hours a day, and where possible, up to 24 hours a day in high density and flagship locations where the security situation permits,” he added.
Lab analysts against re-blending of adulterated fuel
As fuel scarcity bites harder across the country, the Society of Testing Laboratory Analysts of Nigeria (SOTLAN) yesterday advised the federal government against re-blending contaminated fuel.
“Instead of re-blending, the fuel should be returned and replaced according to international best practice. This will make a statement that we are not a dumping ground,” the president of the society, Prof. Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, said.
He spoke against the backdrop of plans by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to re-blend the contaminated fuel.
The president, who addressed a press conference in Lagos yesterday, expressed regret over the imported contaminated fuel currently causing economic disruptions in the country.
He noted that more than 1,000 tons of fuel containing methanol as high as 20 per cent was imported, though Nigeria has 50 internationally accredited laboratories.
According to him, that would not have happened if Nigeria had utilised the resources available to it.
“This statement begs the following questions; Who are those responsible for the testing? Who are those responsible as supervisory agencies? What sanctions are to be meted out to such erring companies/analysts/laboratories? What happens to the PMS product withdrawn and quarantined? Will these not be re-blended and later sold to Nigerian consumers?
“If re-blended, can the PMS product achieve a NIL methanol content as specified in the Nigerian Standard, NIS 116:2017, the standard for Premium Motor Spirit?”