As the current fuel scarcity lingers, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has disclosed that the situation is caused by the actions of fuel smugglers.
The NMDPRA on Friday issued this in a statement while reassuring Nigerians about the availability of over 1.6 billion litres as of 26th January 2023.
Recall in November 2022 as Nigerians groaned under the hardship wreaked by the current scarcity, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited stated that the scarcity experienced in parts of the country was caused by the ongoing road projects in Lagos.
NNPC’s executive vice-president, Adeyemi Adetunji, made this known at a news conference.
“States across the country are experiencing a dwindling petrol availability which has seen the product sell for as high as N350 a litre, negatively impacting commuters.
“The recent queues in Lagos are largely due to ongoing road infrastructure projects around Apapa and access road challenges in some parts of Lagos depots,” Adetunji had said.
However, in another move, the regulatory agency, accused fuel smugglers of being behind the crisis while pledging prosecution via collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service.
The statement reads, “The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) wishes to reassure all Nigerians that there is PMS sufficiency of over 1.6 billion litres as of 26th January 2023 both on land and marine.
“NNPC has additionally made firm commitment to supply more volume of PMS for the months ahead to guarantee national energy security and nationwide availability at the government regulated price.
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“The current distribution hitch is heightened by activities of cross-border smugglers, who divert PMS meant for Nigerian market to neighbouring countries where PMS prices are significantly higher than Nigeria’s regulated price. We are engaging and collaborating with the Nigeria Customs Service to address this issue.”
It furthered that the reason for the price increase was “inflation and the regional impact of the Russia- Ukraine conflict on the global energy value chain including international freight rates and coastal vessels charter rates.
“We wish to bring to public knowledge that the ongoing government effort to rehabilitate strategic Nigerian roads ahead of the rainy season has necessitated rerouting of tanker trucks conveying petroleum products to alternative roads, therefore increasing transit time and associated cost of product transportation.”
Meanwhile, in a bid to redress the situation, a 14-member steering group was established by President Muhammadu Buhari last week, to deal with the supply and distribution of petroleum products throughout the nation.
The President will serve as the steering committee’s chairman, and Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, will serve as the committee’s alternate chairman.
Sylva, in a statement released by his top media and communication advisor, Horatius Egua, on Tuesday, stated that the committee would, among other things, ensure the supply and distribution of petroleum products throughout the nation is transparent and effective.