TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
No fewer than 33 filling stations in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, have been closed by officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for alleged sharp practices.
The DPR’s Port Harcourt Zone Operation’s Controller, Mr. Bassey Nkanga, stated this during a routine inspection of filling stations operating in the state capital.
Nkanga disclosed that out of over 150 stations inspected, 33 were caught under-dispensing and selling adulterated petroleum products to unsuspecting customers.
Among the filling stations affected, according to the Port Harcourt Zonal Operations Controller, were those belonging to Conoil Petroleum, Eterna, Forte Oil, Mobile and Oando.
Nkanga said: “The filling stations were sealed for cheating the public in violation of stipulated rules guiding operations in the upstream and downstream petroleum industry.
“So far, of the 150 stations we visited in our ongoing surveillance in Port Harcourt, 33 stations were sealed for selling adulterated products to the public.
“Other offences include operating without valid license, as well as selling products between N148 to N152 per litre above government approved pump price,” he said.
Nkanga said the department also closed down filling stations that erroneously over-dispensed products more than the approved price, thereby incurring losses.
“For such filling stations, we found out that of every 10 litres dispensed, that two litres were mistakenly given to customers free.
“So, we simply stopped them from dispensing products pending when such pumps were recalibrated. We took this measure because we want the marketers to remain in business.
“Consequently, the 33 filling stations are presently under sanction with various fines,” he said.
According to him, severe sanctions await marketers caught dispensing products or tampering with evidence after their stations had been sealed by government.
Nkanga further said that the department was currently working with security agencies to end the activities of illegal refiners and dealers of adulterated petroleum products operating in Old Port Harcourt town.
“We will not relent in our efforts to ensure full compliance to rules as stipulated in guidelines of the petroleum industry.
“Severe sanctions awaits any marketer caught flouting the rules by adjusting their meters, hoarding petroleum products and operating without valid license,” he warned.