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Fuel queues worsen as petrol hits N250/litre

As scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit also known as petrol increased in many states on Sunday, some filling stations in Lagos, Abuja, Niger, and other locations have started selling the product for as much as N200 to N250 per litre.

The shortage of petrol in Lagos and neighbouring states, as well as in Abuja and its environs, has been linked to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company’s failure to meet demand. The NNPC has been Nigeria’s sole importer of gasoline for several years.

Some filling stations in Lagos sold petrol to motorists at N200/litre and still had queues, as black marketers dispensed the product at N300/litre.

In Abuja, Khalif filling station in Kubwa dispensed the commodity at N250/litre on Sunday but had N165/litre displayed on its pumps. But once a motorist tells the fuel attendant the amount he or she wishes to buy, this would be calculated based on N250/litre.

The queues for petrol in Abuja have never ceased since February this year, but it grew worse in neighbouring states of Nasarawa and Niger on Sunday as motorists search for PMS to move around during the Sallah break.

Oil marketers denied claims of product hoarding or diversion, as they stressed that the insufficient supply of PMS by NNPC and the non-payment of bridging claims for the transportation of petrol were the key reasons for the scarcity.

The President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, said filling stations that had products were dispensing, while those that were shut had no petrol to sell.

He said, “The problem is that every side needs to be transparent. We as retail outlet owners are ready to sell petroleum products to the teeming Nigerian public. We have no reason why we should not sell our products.

“The money used in buying the 45,000 litres of petrol from depots, almost N7m, is borrowed, and time-bound. So every retail outlet owner knows that the wise thing to do in this business is to sell out and try to turn around that sale as many times as possible.

“So with this scenario in view, there is no retail outlet owner that is hoarding product or diverting it. Yes, we know there may be bad eggs among the good bunch, but the fact that we are not having sufficient products is what has remained the cause of fuel scarcity.”

Gillis- Harry added, “In the case of Abuja, it is clear to understand that if the bridging claims are paid to marketers, they will be able to continue their products’ purchase cycle. That is just the reality. So payment of bridging claims is an issue and insufficient supply is also another issue.

“This is because if there is product and there is money for us to buy, then why won’t we buy and sell? What else are we in business for? Are we going to buy products and keep them? The answer is no! So this is the reality.”

On what could be the solution to the current crisis in the downstream oil sector, the PETROAN president stated that everything still boiled down to the need to end the current fuel subsidy regime.

He said, “There is a solution and it is simple. The subsidy that is being paid should be stopped. The money should be channeled to other developmental infrastructures such as health, education, etc.

“And since the refineries have not been fixed by the government, they should either give it wholly to private sector practitioners like PETROAN that own the retail outlets to manage.”

The NNPC stayed mum when asked to react to claims of insufficient supply of petrol by the national oil company. Its spokesperson, Garba-Deen Mohammad, did not answer calls and had yet to respond to a text message sent to him on the matter.

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