The recent reduction in the ex-depot price of petrol by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was to keep the oil firm competitive following the commencement of petrol imports by private marketers, industry operators said on Wednesday.
It was learnt that the corporation had abundant stock and it had to crash its ex-depot price in order not to lose its customers, as more dealers began the importation of petrol.
The PUNCH exclusively reported on Wednesday that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency had issued permits to private marketers to join the NNPC in the importation of petrol.
For more than two years, the NNPC served as the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria, before the downstream sector was officially liberalised on March 19.
On May 6, the NNPC announced a reduction in the ex-depot price of petrol from N113.28k per litre to N108 per litre.
Officials at the Abuja headquarters of PPPRA and oil marketers said the national oil firm decided to cut down its ex-depot price because the cost of petrol might crash once the products of other marketers begin to hit the market.
They told our correspondent that although the reduction had not caused a corresponding crash in the pump price of petrol, the cost of the commodity at filling stations might drop by next month.
“When the NNPC made a reduction in ex-depot price for PMS, there was a serious confusion because people thought that with the move, it would lead to a reduction in pump price. But it didn’t happen,” a senior PPPRA official, who pleaded not to be named said.
The official added, “Now, the reason was that the NNPC made a business decision because the corporation is just like any other marketer right now. The NNPC is going to be importing and selling as much as all other marketers will be importing and selling too.
“So, there is no preferential treatment given to anybody at all. What is happening is that the NNPC gave its own business decision because they have a lot of stock.
“Remember the NNPC used to be the sole importer of petrol and for it not to lose its customers, it took the business decision of cutting down ex-depot price.”