THERE were indications, yesterday, that petrol scarcity has returned to Lagos and its environs as many oil marketers shut their outlets against motorists and other buyers.
The scarcity was noticed in Abuja and environs last week, development oil marketers had attributed to bad roads and high cost of diesel for distribution.
But checks by Vanguard, over the weekend, indicated that many independent and major oil marketers were not open for business, leaving only the NNPC Limited to attend to customers in most parts of Lagos visited.
It was gathered that NNPC Limited has supply because it remains the only importer of the product.
Despite deregulation, other operators have not been able to import petrol because of market uncertainty and lack of foreign exchange, currently standing at more than N1,000/dollar in the informal market.
In a telephone interview with Vanguard, yesterday, the President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, said actions had been taken to address the situation.
He said: “Stakeholders have been meeting and measures have been taken to enable oil marketers to access foreign exchange at a rate that will not disturb the current price of the product.”
However, checks by Vanguard in Abuja showed that most major marketers which were opened have hiked their pump price from N615 per liter to N625 per litre.
Similarly, the Public Relations Officer, of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, had said: “The issue we have is that most of the private depots have gone out of stock because they get supply from NNPCL. Since NNPC is the sole importer, these private depots that independents buy products from also depend on the NNPC for their supplies. This arrangement is also encouraging profiteering.
Some of the portals owned by NNPC have shut down and are no longer issuing authority to lift to marketers in some of their portals. This significantly shows that there is a gap in the chain of supply. But I was reassured by the MD of NNPC that they are expecting products and they will feed us very soon.
“I want to state that NNPC prices have not changed and they are still selling at N577.6/litre as ex-depot price”, he added
Also, the President of the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria, NOGASA, Mr. Benneth Korie, had warned that the downstream in the country was under serious pressure as stations were shutting down due to harsh operational conditions.
Korie pointed out that “depot owners are so terribly affected by the increasing cost of the crude and exchange rate to the extent that many depots are practically deserted as their owners are unable to secure bank loans to fund their business due to high-interest rates.