. Marketers urge diversification of fuel importation
The Federal government has promised to investigate the supply of adulterated or off-specification premium motor spirit (PMS) also called petrol.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed this yesterday to state house correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
This follows serious nationwide concerns of supply and distribution of the contaminated fuel in the market, leading to yet-to-be-quantified damages suffered by car owners.
The Minister said the decision to probe followed a briefing on the issue to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, to get to the bottom of the matter.
On possible sanctions against the importer/supplier, he said: “I didn’t expect you to rush to any conclusions. There’ll be a major investigation to unravel everything and then let’s get to the bottom of it before we can come back and tell you what is going to happen to the culprits.”
He also assured that the government would consider compensating those who may have been adversely affected by the fuel. “We know that some people’s vehicles must have also been damaged, that is also going to be taken into consideration in dealing with the situation.”
Sylva, who cautioned against speculation of sanction against the importer, said: “The issue did not come up in Council, but of course, you will recall I was here yesterday 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.”
There’ll be a major investigation to unravel everything and then let’s get to the bottom of it before we can come back and tell you what is going to happen to the culprits.
While analysts have blamed the downstream regulators and importer/supplier of negligence and lack of due diligence, oil markets believe the situation is more of operational lapses.
Besides, they noted: “It (off-spec petrol) was identified, captured and quarantined or isolated and it is now being withdrawn from the system. So this is what has disrupted the supply chain flow.”
Warning against panic-buying, the marketers envisage that the clean-up process should be completed by this weekend and normalcy restored to the supply chain by Monday.
They argued that the current situation, leading to scarcity of petrol nationwide and attendant long queues and many man-hours wasted therein, underscores the need to diversify the product importation.
For a country as big as Nigeria with over 200 million people, leaving the importation of fuel to one entity is not only dangerous but also a very big risk, as proven under the current circumstances.