The nation may soon experience acute shortage of petrol following the inability of the Federal Government to place order for the fourth quarter importation and non-settlement of N200bn outstanding subsidy payment to petroleum marketers.
Investigations showed that the non- placement of order, barely three weeks into the quarter, expected to be characterised by increased demand following the coming of Christmas would impact negatively on the nation that is still depending on surpluses of the third quarter to meet demand.
The Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Stanley, could not be reached for comments as he did not respond to phone calls or text messages. But another source in the agency said: “The PPPRA has presented the list of marketers to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for approval.
We are presently waiting for the ministry to grant approval before we can engage the marketers to import the fuel. “We have done what is expected of us. It is only when we secure approval that the marketers would be engaged to carry out the third quarter petrol importation.”
It was also learnt that the non-settlement of outstanding N200bn debts to marketers had greatly reduced their capacities to import fuel, a development said to be worsened by the refusal of banks to grant loans.
The Executive Secretary, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr. Timothy Olawore, who confirmed the situation in a telephone interview said: “The indebtedness level is huge and has greatly reduced the capacities of our members to import petrol. “A few companies still manage to import.
But it is gradually getting to a critical point when no firm would be able to import anymore.
“Available stocks are depleting on daily basis. If drastic actions are not taken to import fuel as well as settle the outstanding, the nation would likely witness fuel shortage during the fourth coming Christmas and new year celebrations.
“The period is usually characterised by increased fuel consumption following frequent movement of persons and goods from one part of the nation to another.”
The President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, tasked the government and other stakeholders to ensure that efforts were made to provide adequate fuel for domestic consumption.
A source in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, who could not say when the marketers would be paid, said the list was being vetted to ensure that only marketers with the capacity to deliver are included.
He said: “No company that was indicted in the subsidy claims report can import petroleum products under the new dispensation.
“In fact, even if we were foolish enough to include any of them, they will get stuck because the Ministry of Finance will not pay them.”
He reiterated that the current administration had plugged all the leakages and avenues for corruption in the subsidy claims, adding that the process had been fortified with the current tracking system introduced by the agency for monitoring fuel imports.
Investigations, however, showed that the government might release about 40 names for the fourth quarter importation following the desire to ensure that adequate petrol is imported to meet demand.
It was learnt that about 4.22 billion litres of fuel would likely be imported into the country during the period. It was learnt that lapses were not expected as the Federal Government had budgeted N971bn for fuel importation in order to achieve improved stability this year.
But the spokesman for Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, Mr. Nasir Imodagbe, in a telephone interview with our correspondent assured that there would be no shortage of the product.
Imodagbe said: “We do not envisage shortage because there are presently commercial stocks of petrol in various locations in the nation. “As a subsidiary of the NNPC directly involved in downstream activities, we would do our best to ensure that fuel is available.”
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.