Confusion as FG denies petrol price hike, marketers seek deregulation

The Federal Government has denied any increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, despite the hike in the cost of the commodity across the country.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, in a statement issued by his media aide, Horatius Egua, in Abuja on Friday, said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had not approved any price increase for petrol
The statement read in part, “President Muhammadu Buhari has not approved any increase in the price of PMS or any other petroleum product for that matter.
“There is no reason for President Muhammadu Buhari to renege on his earlier promise not to approve any increase in the price of PMS at this time.

“Mr President is sensitive to the plights of the ordinary Nigerian and has said repeatedly that he understands the challenges of the ordinary Nigerian and would not want to cause untold hardship for the electorate.”
The minister added, “The government will not approve any increase (in the price) of PMS secretly without due consultation with the relevant stakeholders. The President has not directed the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority or any agency for that matter to increase the price of fuel.
“This is not the time for any increase in the pump price of PMS.”

He said what was playing out was the handiwork of mischief makers and those planning to discredit the achievements of the President in the oil and gas sector.
“I appeal to Nigerians to remain calm and law-abiding as the government is working hard to bring normalcy to fuel supply and distribution in the country,” Sylva added.
The minister’s position has, however, caused confusion as oil marketers had earlier confirmed the increase in petrol price by N10, stating that this was one of the reasons why major marketers were currently dispensing the commodity at higher rates.
Several calls to the spokesman of the NNPCL, Garba Deen Muhammad, to speak on the hike in PMS price were not answered, but the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria attributed the increase in the cost to logistics.
In a statement on Friday night, MOMAN sympathised with Nigerians over the challenges being faced in the purchase of petrol at filling stations across the country.
It said, “These queues are caused by exceptional high demand and bottlenecks in the distribution chain. The major cause is the shortage and high (US dollar) costs of daughter vessels for ferrying product from mother vessels to depots along the coast.
“Next is inadequate number of trucks to meet the demand to deliver products from depots to filling stations nationwide. These high logistics and exchange rate costs continue to put pressure on prices at the pumps.

Asked if the NNPCL was reducing imports in a bid to tackle smuggling, or if it was due to the burden of subsidy, the marketer replied, “It is not that they are afraid of smuggling. They have not even come out to say products are going out of the country through smuggling.
“The issue has been that the level of supply has gone down, and then the major marketers, whom they rely so much on, have advised them to do a gradual increase in the pump price, which they have been doing.
“You know that they raised the price a few months ago from N165/litre to N175/litre and just yesterday (Thursday), it was increased from N175/litre to N185/litre, and this may continue for some time, which is a gradual way of phasing out subsidy.”

The marketer also pointed out that there had been concerns around logistics, stressing that dealers in Apapa, Lagos, were being forced to pay N100,000 on each tanker to naval men manning checkpoints before being allowed to cross under the bridge at the Navy Dockyard Road to load petroleum products from the depots.
The source added, “Marketers are forced to pay this amount, whether they want to pick from Conoil, Aiteo, MRS, Oando, or whichever. There was a time the downstream regulator came to complain about this to the head of the security agency involved, but he defended his boys and nothing was done to stop it
“This is an illegal fee and it all adds up to the unit cost of the pump price of petrol. And even when you have your N100,000, it is not that easy to pass through this bridge that I just told you about.
“This is one of the hiccups affecting supply. Some marketers spend almost a week crossing that bridge even when they are ready to pay N100,000. Right now, the price has been officially raised to N185/litre, but even here in Lagos, you have major marketers selling at N199 and others selling above N200/litre.”
Also speaking on concerns in the downstream oil sector, the Secretary, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, confirmed that most depots were dry.
He stated that in the past, the NNPC used to pump from its jetty to depots, but noted that the pipelines had been destroyed, adding that supply from the national oil company had dropped.
Asked to state the number of depots in Lagos where the NNPC could drop products, he said, “Before, they pumped from their jetty to Mosimi; but right now, the pipeline through which the product is being pumped has been vandalised.

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