Uche Usim, Abuja
Plans to drastically reduce petroleum products diversion and determine the actual national daily consumption volume have moved a notch higher as the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Management Board, (PEFMB) on Tuesday, said it had commenced the Sensor Monitoring Project (SMP), designed to boost transparency the importation and distribution of white products, especially petrol.
Speaking at training for energy journalists in Abuja, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive of PEF, Mr. Ahmed Bobboi, said the idea of the SMP was mooted after it commissioned a study to determine the technology gap assessment of its operations.
He added that the outcome of the study revealed areas that needed to be addressed.
According to him, PEF discovered through the study that the SMP would close some gaps in its operations, noting that the project was done after collaboration with other agencies in the petroleum industry.
He said: “Up to today, it is difficult to determine the actual quantity of fuel consumed in this country. Different agencies give you different figures and I think it is not tidy. With the introduction of the Sensor Monitoring project, we believe it would serve to answer all the questions.
“The project for the Sensor Monitoring which was approved by the Federal Executive Council was supposed to last for three years, but work has already started. Some of the equipment we are going to use such as the ICT equipment are being produced now; the contractor has already mobilised to the site; work has started already.
“The question is when do we begin to see the effect? By six months, we will begin to feel something, at the end of one year; we will begin to see something. Maybe before the end of this year, we will begin to see some of the landmarks of this project.”
He explained that the planned commencement of equalisation of petroleum products through the railway was suspended due to the proposed policies of the Federal government concerning the rails.
Bobboi noted that PEF was waiting to determine the direction of the government as regards the rail system so that it could enter into discussions with the eventual managers of the railway on the modalities for the transportation of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, through the railways.
He said: “We planned to introduce the railway equalisation programme last year, but certain developments delayed it. One of the developments is the government policy of divesting from that area because government is considering concessioning the management of the railway system.
“We want to wait and see who will end up managing the railway, whether it is government or the private sector so that we will discuss with them and agree on the modalities.”
He added that the PEF was also considering transportation of petroleum products through the waterways, adding that the introduction of alternative means of transportation of the products would reduce the pressures on the roads and create employment opportunities for Nigerians.
“We are also thinking about marine transportation in the near future. This is because we believe that if we introduce alternative means of transporting the products, it will reduce the pressure on our roads, reduce the wear and tear of the roads; it will also create job opportunities for people who want to work in those areas,” Bobboi noted.
The PEF chief executive explained that the ‘Aquila 2’ project, which was expected to monitor products movement from receiving depot up to the retail outlet of the oil marketers, had not been abandoned but was subsumed inside the Network Sensor Monitoring project.
Also speaking, General Manager, Corporate Services, PEF, Mr. Goddy Nnadi, disclosed that the Sensor Monitoring project would address the diversion of petroleum products and provide consumption data to critical agencies of government to help in economic planning.