Adulterated fuel: As scarcity worsens, costs, storage delay removal

One week after detection of bad petrol in some states of the federation, evacuation is yet to start due mainly to huge volume of the product, logistics and costs to be borne in the process of moving it from depots and filling stations to designated points.

This has narrowed the possibility of resolving the scarcity on time, as fresh product to close supply gap runs into storage facilities’ hitches.

Investigations by Vanguard, yesterday, showed that the bad product was still at the various depots and filling stations, thus delaying distribution and storage of new product coming into the nation.

This means that the current petrol shortage would linger for awhile, as government and other stakeholders continue to work towards resolving all issues associated with the scarcity of fuel at filling stations.

The development compelled a meeting of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN and Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and Nigerian National Petroleum Company, Limited, NNPC, and other stakeholders in Lagos yesterday to review the situation.

Consequently, three committees, namely, technical, commercial and steering, were set up to address the problem.

136 vehicle engines damaged

Chairman of MOMAN, Olumide Adeosun, who confirmed the establishment of the committees on the sidelines of the meeting, said: “We were aware of this and have been working to ensure that the product received was separated, so it does not contaminate others, leading to destruction of consumers’ engines.

“Yet, some bad cases were recorded, including the Ardova PLC case, which led to 136 reported cases of vehicle engines damaged.

“But, we have identified the quantum of the problems, traced the sources and know the vessels that discharged the products as well as the depots and filling stations involved.

“At the moment, we are working to restore normal operations. We are making sure that the clean product, which has been received into our system is pushed out to consumers immediately.”

It was reliably learned that the commercial committee has been mandated to visit the various depots and filling stations where the bad product is stored to quantify and ensure evacuation at approved costs, which would eventually be settled by government.

NMDPRA reacts

Reacting to the importation of about 100 million litres of bad petrol, the NMDPRA noted that evacuation of the product had commenced, adding that it also has 20 days sufficiency volume to meet demand.

NMDPRA thus advised Nigerians against panic buying, as about 300 million litres of petrol is being discharged at the Apapa jetty.

Speaking during a stakeholders meeting, Chief Executive Officer, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, said: “Today (yesterday), I am happy to say that loading is ongoing at various depots in the country, because we have been able to identify, isolate and quarantine the limited PMS that was affected by the methanol volume discovered.

“At the moment, six vessels ordered by the NNPC arrived the country in the last few days, carrying a total volume of 300 million litres. This is meant to close the gap created by those affected volumes of petrol we have withdrawn from the system.

“Today, we have about 20 days sufficiency of petrol in the country. Our ideal is to have 30 days volume level; because of concerns, we have to withdraw those vessels, which created this gap of 90 million litres to 20 days sufficiency.

“But with aggressive importation by the NNPC, this gap will be mitigated in the next few days, according to data obtained from the NNPC programme.

‘No need to panic’

“Loading is ongoing in most of the depots that have confirmed one specification material, so there is no need to panic. Between now and tomorrow, the off-specification product will be cleared.

“Currently, there is a 39,000 metric tonnes, MT, vessel that is about to discharge at the Apapa Single Point Mooring, ASPM, and this vessel will be providing products to major oil marketers, including OVH, TotalEnergies, 11 Plc, Conoil and Ardova, according to loading programme received from MOMAN.

“So, once these vessels complete discharging and start pushing the products to marketers, I believe Lagos will be cleared of shortage. We have gotten that assurance from the marketers.

“Also, most of these vessels that are on ground will also be providing volumes to most of the key members of DAPMAN. Off course, we have smaller vessels loading these off-specification product, which our technical team are trying to address.”

Bad fuel still at filling stations

But Vanguard gathered yesterday that the bad fuel has not been evacuated from affected depots and filling stations because of logistics challenges.

A source said: “We did start evacuation because the quantity is large. The logistics of evacuation is also complex, while the cost remains huge. It is only today (yesterday) that the modalities have been discussed and agreed, leading to the formation of the three committees. So, we are now going to work and hopefully, in the next few few days, the impact will be felt. In other words, evacuation has not started.”

Scarcity worsens in Abuja, Lagos, others

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Vanguard in Abuja, Lagos, and other cities indicated that many stations closed their gates against motorists and other customers desirous to buy the product, yesterday.

Consequently, there were long fuel queues as hawkers seized the opportunity to sell the product at exorbitant prices, ranging between N200 and N300 per a litre, depending on the location in Lagos and its environs.

In Osogbo, Osun State, filling stations have been hoarding the product.

It was observed that there were queues in some stations early in the morning, while the stations were shut in the evening, with attendants selling only to customers in jerry-cans.

The situation is similar in other towns, including Ife, Ilesa, Ikire and Ikirun, where vehicle owners lamented long queues at filling stations where petrol attendants sell the product at higher prices than displayed on the pump.

A commercial motorcyclist, identified as Ismail said: “The filling station where I bought the product today (yesterday) collected N200 per litre, while the pump still reflected N163 per litre. Government should step in quickly before it degenerates beyond control.”

Reacting, Osun Controller, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Benjamin Ogunnubi, said the filling stations were not perpetrating the sharp practices during official working hours, saying his men went round some of the towns to monitor development.

“Well, our personnel were on ground on Tuesday to monitor filling stations in selected towns in the state and there was no such act. They may resort to it after working hours, I don’t know, but our men will go round again on Thursday, (tomorrow) to monitor development around the towns”, he said

However, it was observed that some filling stations that had the product still sold at the official rate of between N162.50 and N165 per litre.

FG begins investigation

Meanwhile, the Federal Government, yesterday, said it has initiated the process to investigate the supply of adulterated fuel, which has reportedly damaged many car engines of motorists.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The minister said the President was briefed on the matter and that the aim was to get to the bottom of the matter.

He cautioned against drawing conclusions before the investigation was completed.

Sylva said: “The issue did not come up in Council, but of course, you will recall that I was here yesterday (Tuesday) to brief Mr. President on the issue. I’m not in a position to disclose the identities of the companies, but there are some issues and we are actively tackling them.

“Nobody has, before now, checked for methanol in our fuel, it’s not very usual and this is the first time this is happening and NNPC is very much up to the task.

“I will also convey your question to NNPC and maybe the Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, but we’re actively handling it and I want to assure you that the problem will be a thing of the past very soon.”

Damaged vehicles’ll be considered — Sylva

The minister assured that government would consider compensating those who might have been adversely affected by the bad fuel.

Asked whether the companies behind importation of the adulterated fuel will be sanctioned, the Minister said: “I didn’t expect you to rush to any conclusions. There will l be a major investigation to unravel everything and then let’s really get to the bottom of it before we can come back and tell you what is going to happen to the culprits.

“We know that some peoples’ vehicles must have also been damaged, that is also going to be taken into consideration in dealing with the situation.”

By Vanguard News


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