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Marketers keeping fuel to have license revoke

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By Timothy Akintola

PENGASSAN says there is no justification for inflating petrol price.

In the face of a continued fuel scarcity that has ravaged Nigeria, The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have recently encouraged the Nigerian government to revoke the license of fuel marketers that have decided to sell above the official price. In a statement jointly signed by the president and secretary of the association, Festus Osifo and Lumamba Okugbawa respectively, the association noted that there was no justification to exploit the present situation and subject the populace to immense difficulties by inflating fuel prices.

Recall that in June last year, the federal government fixed the petrol price at N165 per liter, as stipulated in the petroleum product pricing template. This announcement was as a result of the disruption in the supply chain of petroleum products across the country, where all filling stations sold petrol for inflated prices. A month later, the marketers of the oil industry reportedly gave the federal government an ultimatum for retaining the N165 per liter price.

PENGASSAN to collaborate with stakeholders to curb this exploitation.

According to the marketers, it was imperative for the commodity price to be sold at an approved ex-depot price across the various depots in the country, regardless of whether privately owned or government owned. This, they noted would enable filling stations in the country to sell petrol at the official N165 per liter price. The marketers were critical of private depots selling the product at a higher rate of N160 per liter, above the approved rate, making it impossible to keep the price at the approved N165 per liter. With the inflated prices of petrol now out of control, PENGASSAN however insisted that it would collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure that Nigerians are not exploited.

On the scarcity, many roads and household users across the country are presently witnessing a tough time getting petrol. Despite the government claiming to have sufficient petroleum products in stock, the scarcity has somehow persisted. Last Tuesday, President Buhari approved the formation of a 14-member committee to look into the efficiency of distributing these petroleum products across the country. The NMDPRA also attributed the scarcity situation to a disruption in distribution chains caused by cross-border smugglers.

Scarcity, data shows Nigeria has sufficient fuel to last 30 days.

Despite the federal government’s claim of sufficient fuel reserves, reports suggest that Nigerians have continuously suffered the brunt of this fuel scarcity. Experts in the oil sector aver that fuel scarcity will continually be a resurfacing problem if the pricing issue is not addressed. The issue of subsidy, where the government regulates prices and spends trillions that it cannot afford yearly on subsidizing the petrol price pose as a major problem. As a result of the country’s lack of functioning oil-producing refineries, the government owned NNPC have been the only importer of petrol into the country, with most private companies withdrawing as a result of the subsidy challenges. This has also posed a serious problem to the oil industry in the country.

The association explained that by available data, there was fuel sufficiency to last about 30 days in the country and as such, there was no basis for the hardship and scarcity that Nigerians were subjected to. The Union importantly empathized with the populace on the cumbersome situation that the scarcity and drastic inflation of PMS price had caused. In the statement, the union further pointed out that they had been following up with their members in the NNPC Trading Limited who were responsible for allotting these products to marketers and their teaming members in numerous depots and terminals across the country who are also responsible for issuing cargo clearance, routing inspections, metering calibrations, record keeping to ensure that they responsively carry out their functions.

Overbearing marketers deploying paradigms to create artificial scarcity.

Union further noted that though they were aware that the parameters imputed into the NMDPRA template had undergone changes due to the economic oddities such as exchange rate fluctuations, hiring cost of vessels and AGO cost, there still was no sufficient justification for the inflated price of petrol. The association admitted that while some of the marketers were good enough to play truthfully by the rules, other overbearing marketers had deployed paradigms to create artificial scarcities, in a bid to inflate the fuel price. They however urged the management of NMDPRA to enforce the availability of petrol at the official price to all marketers.

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