By Dipo Awojobi – The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) has re-assured Nigerians of its commitment to end the persistent fuel scarcity in the country, even as it apologized for the hardship the people are going through on account of the shortage.
The Corporation said adequate arrangement has been made to ensure supply and distributions.
In a lengthy statement in Abuja Tuesday, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr Garba Deen Muhammed , NNPC said, “We wish to re-assure Nigerians that we are on top of the petroleum products supply and distribution situation and we remain committed to eliminating this endemic issue once and for all within the next few days.
“We genuinely empathize with the attendant sufferings and wish to reassure that we are focused and committed to bring an end to this situation within the next few days.
“We kindly call on all Nigerians to partner with us on this journey to allowing the whole process of change come into fruition,” it said.
It said the current administration inherited a huge catalogue of issues and problems in the downstream sector not limited to arrears of subsidy payments to Oil Marketers.
Other issues, it said, included corruption and inefficiencies in the supply and distribution chain, incessant vandalism of pipelines and poor performance of refineries, among others.
It noted that a combination of these issues resulted in most oil majors completely pulling out from the importation business .
This, it said, led to NNPC assuming a near 100 per cent importation obligation without the necessary logistics put in place.
It said the NNPC Management had initiated and made progress on various key solutions to providing a lasting end to these issues.
It added that with the firm support of President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly, the debt burden had been reduced since Jan. 1.
“We have been able to eliminate subsidy payments by managing prices at current levels through price modulation.
This has resulted to savings of over N100 billion monthly for the nation.
“Nationwide Petroleum supply and distribution have been ramped up to all states to ensure product availability in the country,” it said .
According to the statement, the current supply to states is in excess of the normal consumption especially in the five major consuming cities.
It added that monitoring had been intensified to ensure full compliance with approved prices adding that violations of approved prices and hoarding of petroleum products attracted penalties.
The penalties include giving out of petroleum products free to the public and sealing off fuel stations found to be hoarding petroleum products and payment of a fine.
Others were withdrawal of Marketer’s Licence and penalising any NNPC, DPR, PPPRA or government agent found conniving and wanting in line with public service guidelines and procedures.
It encouraged the general public to report product hoarders and saboteurs of the change efforts .
“We encourage everyone to shun panic buying and undue return trips as this attitude emboldens marketers to hoard products.
“Supply constraints due to foreign exchange challenges are being resolved through collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria on innovative ways of closing the gaps in accessing foreign exchange,” it said.
The statement noted that the major international upstream oil companies had indicated their willingness to support major oil marketing companies with some of the required foreign exchange.
It added that corporation was pursuing an improved model for ‘crude oil for refined product’ exchange (the Direct Sale – Direct Purchase arrangement).
This, it said had eliminated inefficiencies with an attendant cost saving for the nation of about one billion dollars.
It said that the corporation in the medium term was working on sustainable strategies to permanently address the issues and challenges facing the midstream and downstream sectors.
“The overarching objective is to make Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products as was the case in the 1970’s.
“Our commitment to ramp up our local refining capacity and availability remains unwavered with the ongoing rehabilitation works targeted at running all refineries at a minimum 70 per cent capacity utilisation within the next six to eight months.
“This is in addition to our initiative of increasing the combined capacity of the domestic refineries through co-locating smaller but cost efficient modular refineries within the existing refineries premises within a time frame of 12 to 24 months,” it stated .
It added that NNPC had secured presidential approval to take additional crude oil volume to guarantee national supply of petrol.
To curb storage and logistics challenges, it said, the corporation was working on a joint partnership with technically and financially capable investors.
It said this would help to ensure that petroleum products transportation and storage facilities were efficiently operated on an open-access common-carrier user-tariff basis.
It added that some of these depots would be nominated as strategic reserves while the NNPC would take possession of a strategic reserve vessel in the next three months.
It expressed the hope that tangible results would be delivered within the next three to six months.