The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority has disclosed that it wouldnow check the tanks of filling stations and other depots in order to halt the hoarding of petrol.
The Federal Government said on Saturday that it had stopped operating seven depots in various parts of Nigeria for selling fuel to retail outlets at exorbitant prices.
According to The PUNCH, this was disclosed by the Chief Executive, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, who disclosed this to journalists in Abuja.
According to him, “the action by the affected depots contravened the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, and also contributed to the recent PMS supply crisis in the downstream oil sector.”
The Secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, responded by saying that the government should do more than just close down depots.
He said, “It is not just by shutting down the depots. If you shut down the depots when there are products in them, and you didn’t evacuate the products at the regulated price to the public, then you may end up causing more PMS supply problems.
“If you are a regulator, go in there and enforce, let them open the gates, bring in tankers to evacuate the products to the public so that there will be surplus fuel that will help in driving down the price.
“But by the time you shut down the depots and the products remain in their tanks, we won’t get the products, and who suffers when two elephants fight? The masses will suffer and we are suffering now. These are the consequences.”
Shuaibu added, “So the NMDPRA should open up the depots and allow them to dispense the products at the regulated price. It must also make sure it monitors it to the letter. But by the time you shut down and tomorrow open, and these are businessmen, are you helping the situation or causing more harm?
“These people have products and you are shutting them down, why not regulate it if you want to enforce it? And if anyone is found wanting, punish the person, not by shutting down.”
However, the NMDPRA dispelled worries that the closure of the depots may result in a fuel shortage in various areas of Nigeria.
Ahmed said, “In shutting down the depots, we calculated to see what effects it would have on the flow and distribution of petroleum products. We have enough products across the country.
“We also looked at the availability in other depots within the zones and we realised that even though we shut the seven depots, the effect on the supply within those zones is not going to be significant.
“It will also help us by making those who are hoarding bring out the products because the next level is to go and start checking the tanks of petrol stations and depots to ensure that no marketer or retailer is hoarding the product.”