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Depots embargo payment on petrol for marketers

…envisage N150 per litre price hike

Sept official price delayed

Fuel marketers, yesterday, heightened expectation of a marginal increase that could raise the retail price of premium motor spirit PMS) also known as petrol to N150 per litre for the month of September as they began to profiteer over delay in official price advisory for the month. All the depots loading the product in Apapa, Lagos,New Telegraph gathered exclusively have also stopped marketers from paying N138.62 per litre for petrol loaded yesterday, being the first day of the month. The ex-depot price of N138.62 per litre was in place for the month of August.

Depots such as MRS, Nipco, Sahara, AA Rano, Rahamaniyya and Aiteo sent memos to all the third party marketers registered with them to stop payment forthwith. Major marketers like Total, 11Plc, Forte, OVH Energy and Conoil did not publicly stop payment, further checks by this newspaper showed, because they largely load the product for their service stations and the account reconciliation could easily be done in-house when the possible hike in price is later announced.

The N138.62 per litre exdepot price, which was fixed for August by Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), was still in place as at Sunday, August 31. While Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) is yet to release the September price advisory as at September 1st, this newspaper gathered that some marketers who mostly envisaged a slight surge in the price have engaged in last-minute mopping up of the product at depots in Apapa, Lagos, while they also slowed down the sale of their stocks at their retail outlets for profiteering.

The marketers’ hike in petrol loading activities, which was noticed at the depots beginning from the morning of Saturday, August 30, was, according to findings by this newspaper, to play a fast one on government’s delay in announcing a new price for the product for September. “All the depots that loaded the product for marketers since Saturday received about double of the demand previously made by them (marketers) around middle of August,” a manager at one of the depots told this newspaper.

“All the third-party marketers who loaded beginning from yesterday, have, however, been directed to stop payment,” he added, after his anonymity was guaranteed. Although the message sent by depot to them sighted by New Telegraph did not give any reason for the embargo on payment, it was gathered that this was not unconnected with the surge in demand in the midst of uncertainty over a new price advisory for the month of September. “All the marketers should stop payment for PMS forthwith,” the message read, adding that a geometric increase in demand for the product at the depot has been noticed since Saturday. There is an “increase in loading activities and all these are not unconnected with the expected marginal hike in price for the month (September), which would be announced any moment.”

All the depots that recorded increase in loading activities on Tuesday, this newspaper gathered, sold the product neither at N138.62 per litre ex-depot price nor at a new price. They sold, but embargoed payment for marketers until the coast is clear on the real price for the month.

The Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), it would be recalled, fixed the N138.62 ex-depot petrol price for August. PPMC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), approved the new ex-depot price of petrol for the month of August in a memo released to all depots and marketers sighted on August 4. Ex-depot price is the price that the product is sold at the depot for marketers. It largely determines the price of the product at filling stations.

While PPPRA is yet to release September price advisory as it does monthly since April, PPMC sent a memo advising marketers on the coastal price and exdepot price for the product. It will be recalled that petrol is currently selling at N143.80 per litre at retail outlets and an increase in ex-depot price will definitely affect the new price. President Muhammadu Buhari had approved a monthly review of prices of petroleum products in line with international market prices since April, following the impact of COVID- 19. PPPRA had recently announced total deregulation of petrol pump price with the removal of fuel subsidy.

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