• FG to adjust fuel price by May – Minister
By Adewale Sanyaolu, Dennis Mernyi, Abuja and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Indications emerged yesterday that the current fuel scarcity will abate soon as three vessels containing 50 million metric tonnes of petrol have arrived Apapa, Lagos.
The vessels christened MT Mersk, MT Alizea are currently at the NIPCO jetty awaiting clearance from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to ascertain the exact tonnage.
On the other hand, MT Milueeke is already discharging at the Capital Oil depot.
Chairman of Capital Oil, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, yesterday, confirmed arrival of the vessels.
‘‘I cannot confirm the exact number of vessels waiting to discharge but, I am sure that MT Milueeke is already discharging. After that is completed, other vessels will take turns,’’he said.
Meanwhile, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has denied claims that marketers are responsible for the current fuel scarcity.
The association, in a statement signed by the National Operations Controller, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said the statement credited to one Mr. Lawson Ngoa is false because he is not a member of IPMAN but an agent of the Ministry of Petroleum resources, brought in to mediate in IPMAN internal crisis.
‘‘It is pure defamation for anyone to go on air that IPMAN has accepted responsibility for the scarcity of Petroleum Products and that Nigerians should hold IPMAN responsible for the current scarcity,’ ’he said.
On Monday, Ngoa said the unhealthy rivalry between two IPMAN national factions crippled importation and distribution of petroleum products in Nigeria.
A source at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), however, said four vessels laden with petrol berthed at Apapa terminal between Sunday and today.
“As we speak, one is berthing and about discharging. In general, about 35 vessels are expected at Apapa and Tin Can Ports between April 4-26,” the source said.
He said the expected ships contain buck wheat, empty containers, bulk salt, bulk sugar, frozen fish, general cargoes, ethanol, containers, crude palm olein, steel products, among other commodities.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has announced a price adjustment for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), known as petrol, in May to match current trends. He said the price adjustment could be either downward or upward.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said this in Abuja yesterday.
Kachikwu, who dropped the hint during a visit to the headquarters of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in Abuja, reassured Nigerians that the lingering fuel scarcity in the country will disappear tomorrow beginning from Abuja and Lagos while queues across the states would end by the weekend.
He gave the assurance as a follow up to an earlier promise he made when he met with the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream).
“Hopefully, by Thursday (tomorrow), the fuel queues in Abuja should be over. Hopefully, the same thing will happen to Lagos and, thereafter, by the weekend, we should see Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Port Harcourt and Warri get off the queues.”
The minister said his main concern is not to get the present queue to fizzle out but how to prevent it from reoccurring.
“To do that, there are so many things we need to do. First is that strategic reserves have not been in this country for the past 20 years. We need to bring back strategic reserves so that we can respond within a matter of hours when there is a shortage in any part of the country.”
Kachikwu said it was not true that the government had resumed payment of subsidy on fuel.
“The reality is that in the first three months of doing the price modulation, our over recovery basically enabled us to save quite a lot of money and that is going to fund the gap that you see in April, but, from May, obviously, the prices would have to be adjusted to match current trends,” he said.
In a related development, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulation Agency (PPPRA) has said the Federal Government is not subsidizing PMS, but only modulating it.
In a statement by Sotonye Iyoyo, PPPRA acting executive secretary, the agency said there is no room for subsidy in the 2016 budget, hence, no subsidy is being paid.
“Contrary to reports by a section of the Nigerian media, the Federal Government has not reversed its decision to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), moreso, when there is no appropriation for subsidy in the 2016 budget,” the statement read.
“The PPPRA wishes to state categorically that what still exists is price modulation policy, through which it considers and reviews pump price of PMS quarterly.
“The Agency also wishes to assure Nigerians that the funds from over-recovery in the first quarter (Q1) shall be duly utilized for whatever noticeable imbalance in April 2016 in line with the price modulation principle.”
Meanwhile, residents in Kaduna State, especially motorists, will, henceforth, not be able to get their fuel by the roadside as Kaduna State Security Council yesterday, unanimously agreed to ban sale of petroleum products in jerry cans in the state.
The council, according to Governor Nasir El-rufai’s spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, based its decision on legal and security considerations, compounded by the environmental hazard petroleum products in jerry cans can cause.
He said the council had noted the difficulties imposed by the current petrol scarcity and appealed to citizens to remain patient, assuring that the state government is working with the NNPC and other agencies to reduce the hardship associated with the shortages of petroleum products.