Fuel Queues Return, As Marketers Stop Importation, Depots Run Dry

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Reports have emerged that fuel queues have returned to some parts of Lagos State as oil marketers have stopped the importation of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.
Bellnews understands that seven oil marketers reportedly imported petrol about a month ago but have stopped because of the forex crisis.

It was gathered on Friday that the only importer of PMS was the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), as many depots and filling stations now lack petrol, leading to queues in outlets that dispensed fuel.

This platform reported on Friday that the Chief Executive Officer of PETROCAM Trading (Nig) Ltd., Patrick Ilo, told The Punch that as of Tuesday, he landed 52,000 metric tonnes of petrol imported by the company N720/litre without subsidies.

Ilo explained that at this cost, his company can not sell because of the price of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).

The PETROCAM boss said this is evidence that the NNPCL is still subsidising the product, considering the landing cost, adding that he doesn’t blame the government.

According to him, if the landing cost was already N720, the pump price should be around N729/litre in Lagos State if the Federal Government had truly stopped subsidising the product.

Speaking with the platform, oil marketers disclosed that before last month, when marketers brought in products, they would influence NNPCL to t increase the price to reflect the real pump price; however, now the NNPPCL has refused to raise prices to reflect the current market situation.

This has left marketers unable to import the product, and those who import can’t sell because of the new landing cost. This they to the fact that the government, through NNPCL, stopped raising the cost of petrol because of the current harsh economic realities.

Following these, most marketers have speculated that the government has quietly returned to the subsidy regime, but the government has remained mum over the reports.

Marketer explained that the current petrol price had been sustained because the government was subsidising the commodity.

Meanwhile, marketers explained that the NNPCL currently had so many retail outlets and was struggling to meet their demands, not to mention supplying to third parties.

A marketer who spoke to The Punch on condition of anonymity said, “The depots are dried up. That’s a statement of fact. For more than a month now, no other importer has brought in the product except the NNPC.”

On whether marketers were breaking even because subsidy had been reintroduced on petrol, the dealer said, “We were not breaking even. Rather, what the NNPC was doing was that they were able to help with price adjustments. First of all, when the situation started, each time marketers brought in products, they influenced the NNPC to change its price, and the moment the NNPC changed its price, other marketers would follow.

“But for over a month now, I don’t think marketers have been able to influence the NNPC to change its price. So, that is why you hear that the landing cost currently is about N720/litre, but the NNPC is still selling at between N580 and N617, depending on your location.

“It (the government) has said the price should not be more than that amount. So, for over a month now, no marketer has brought in the product due to the reintroduction of subsidy.”

Speaking further, the marketer said, “The NNPC also has its challenges. The NNPC you have now is different from the one before. If it was before, even if they bring in 10 million litres, they can give close to seven million litres to other marketers and utilise the rest.

“But now, even some of their retail outlets don’t have products because there are so many now. So, you cannot bring in products, you can’t be supplying third parties.”

The marketer said the situation has caused fuel queues to return in some parts of Lagos State.

The source said, “In Lagos, we already have queues. I was driving home (Friday evening) in Okota, and the queues at the NNPC station were as long as you can imagine.

“The issue is that the President did not understand the situation before he said the subsidy was gone. If he understood the sector, he wouldn’t have made that announcement.

“He should have sat down with stakeholders, and he would have understood the intricacies of the sector. However, all of us are in it now.”

Proffering a solution, the marketer said, “The government cannot announce that subsidy is back, but it has to plan right now.

“Everybody knows that subsidy has been back for over a month, so it is not for the government to say it is bringing back subsidy. Rather, it must look for measures.”

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