The price of petrol at depots skyrocketed to N139 per litre at the weekend as supply hitch at Lagos tank farms worsened. Adeola Yusuf, in this report, analyses the hide and seek played by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on ex-depot price and surging number of depots with no product
For the third time in two weeks, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) issued a statement at the weekend to address issues bordering on hitches in supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol and the word, ex-depot price, appeared for the umpteenth time in all the statements.
The last in the series of the statements issued by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, came less than 19 hours after an investigative story by New Telegraph on looming fuel crisis, where it was not only reported that more depots were running dry of petrol but also that the ex-depot price for the product had been hiked far above the regulated price of N133.28 per litre.
And as it almost always says, the corporation declared that the depots nationwide were stocked with petroleum products, just as it stated that it had announced the commencement of importation of 50 million litres vessel-load of petrol daily from Thursday, the day the investigation was published.
The real issue
The ex-depot price of PMS also known as petrol at private depots in Apapa, Lagos last Thursday hit N139 per litre as the product’s supply hitch worsened.
The number of depots with no petrol sale, a market survey for the day obtained by New Telegraph showed, had increased from 20 to 22 with Folawiyo and Fatgbems joining the league on Thursday.
The number of stations with product had reduced to 12, further checks by newspaper showed, as the supply hitch bites harder.
The NNPC, which is the major supplier of petrol to the depots, insisted on Thursday that 55 depots with 23 in Lagos were stock with white products, noting that the depots must sell at the official ex-depot price of N133.28 per litre.
The white product is a generic name for petrol, diesel and kerosene. New Telegraph report is based only on petrol.
Flouting NNPC order
Despite NNPC’s order that depot owners must not increase the ex-depot price, New Telegraph reported on Thursday that the depots sold the product for as high as N136.5 per litre on Wednesday.
The ex-depot price hit N139 per litre as no sale was recorded at two more depots – Folawiyo and Fatgbems.
Nipco, the market survey showed, sold the product at N135 per litre ex-depot price, being the least price on Thursday.
At Obat, the product was sold at N136.5 per litre while it sold at N137 per litre at Aiteo.
Index and Bovas that adjusted their prices previously fixed at N135 per litre on Wednesday to N138 per litre on Thursday. The same scenario played out at MRS with the product sold at N138.5 per litre ex-depot price.
The product’s price hit the ceiling at depots like D-Jones/Aipec; AA Rano and First Royal where a litre of petrole was sold at N139 per litre ex-depot price.
The same scenario was also recorded at Wesbab and Emmadeb depot where a litre of petrol was sold at N139 per litre.
High cost for petrol consumers
Product marketers at filling stations, who are now compelled to buy at higher ex-depot price, are now grumbling.
The N139 ex-depot price, to them, has rendered the N145 per litre regulated pump price unprofitable.
“The N145 per litre is profitable only when the ex-depot price is N133.28 per litre. Now, that the depots have hiked the price to N139 per litre, about N5.62 is lost by filling stations on each litre and what it means is that we will be losing at least N185, 460 on every truck of 33, 000 litres.
“One of two things will happen; either the price is adjusted officially or the pump is adjusted unofficially,” an independent marketer told this newspaper.
The number of depots with no petrol sale has risen from 20 earlier reported on Thursday to 22, the market survey showed.
Of the depots in Dockyard Road; Coconut Area; Beachland Area; Kirikiri Area and; Satellite Town Area, only Nipco, MRS, Sahara, Swift; Bovas; AA Rano; Aipec; Emmadeb; First Royal; and Wesbab have the product on Thursday.
Depots like A-Z; Hensmor; African Terminal; Acquatine; Ascon;Eterna Oil; Gulf Treasure; Ibakem; Ibeto; and T-Time have ran dry of petrol.
Others with no products are Rahamaniya, Obat, D-Jones; Tecno, Index; Mao; Stallonire; Chi-Pet; and Meno.
It is a no hassle for NNPC
Meanwhile, the Corporation had insisted that it had over one billion litres of the product in stock, noting that depot owners should sell product at the regulated ex-depot price of N133.28 per litre.
A depot operator told this newspaper that NNPC was “economical with the truth about the true picture of what is happening,” adding that the Corporation was now rationing product loading by prioritising through-put loading for mega stations and key stations in Lagos and Abuja.
“The ex-depot price of PMS remains N133.28 per litre as at today and this is according to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency template.
“NNPC remains the sole importer of the product and we have not increased the price we sell to marketers. There is no plan to increase pump price, Nigerians should know that,” Ughamadu, said in a statement, noting that Nigerians “should ignore any speculations that fuel pump price will soon increase.”
The Corporation advised motorists and other petroleum products consumers not to engage in panic buying, saying there is enough petroleum products stock in 55 depots across the country.
The hide and seek
Listing the depots that have adequate petroleum products stock, Ughamadu, in a release in Abuja, stated that 23 depots in Lagos, seven in Port Harcourt, 11 in Warri, six in Calabar and eight in Kaduna were fully stocked with white products.
The White product is a generic name for petrol, diesel and kerosene. New Telegraph report is based only on petrol.
Ughamadu, who insisted that the country was wet with product, however, explained that two vessels of 50million litres of petrol would arrive the shores of Nigeria every day from last Thursday.
The release assured Nigerians of an eventful Easter period just as the just ended Yuletide, even as it cautioned depot owners or terminal operators not to sell petrol above the official ex-depot price of N133.28k per litre.
The corporation also advised petroleum products marketers not to sell the product above N145 per litre.
The release said the subsisting ex-depot petrol price of N133.28k per litre was consistent with the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency’s (PPPRA) template and should be adhered to.
Despite an exclusive story published as lead story by New Telegraph, the corporation advised Nigerians to volunteer information to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Industry regulator or to any law enforcement agency around them, on any station which sells petrol beyond N145 per litre. This also envisaged to be for depot owners who sell above the ex-depot price.
NNPC is the sole supplier of petrol to all private depots – even to the tank farms where the product is sold at higher ex-depot price in flagrant disregard for government’s pricing template. The Corporation should, instead of sermonising through statements, actually deny erring depot of fuel supply when they fail to adhere to selling the product at a regulated price.
The depot owners should also make patriotism their watch word. The Easter period is around the corner and they should not be the reason for difficulty on the way of millions of Nigerians who genuinely want to celebrate.
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