Members of the Major Oil Marketing Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketing Association met with the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to resolve issues affecting continued fuel importation.
Others who also attended the meeting were the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, and the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Farouk Ahmed.
Shortly after the meeting, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala told journalists that the meeting agreed that N30 billion be released immediately for the payment of the differentials in exchange rate used by market for fuel importation.
“We will pay the marketers the exchange rate differentials that have been calculated by the PPPRA. We are ready to release N30 billion immediately. We will do more as soon as we receive the numbers from PPPRA,” the Minister said.
She said sovereign debt notes valued at about N320billion calculated in December were paid to marketers, adding that since then a total of about N185 billion prepared by the Debt Management Office were finalized by PPPRA, while about N100 billion have been issued to marketers.
The Executive Secretary of the major marketers association, Olufemi Olawore, said its members were doing all within their capacity to ensure that the crisis, which has started easing up in Lagos, was resolved before the end of the week.
Mr, Olawore said since Monday marketers undertook massive movement of products to various locations, including the major cities, to ensure that normalcy returned in the distribution of petroleum products.
On Monday, he said major marketers moved 132 trucks from their facilities to Lagos, while 87 trucks were moved to Abuja, excluding those by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, depot owners and independent marketers.
On Tuesday, he said another 135 trucks were moved to Lagos and 139 trucks to Abuja, assuring that there was sufficient stock of fuel available to meet demand.
“Hopeful before weekend, everything would normalise “ Mr. Olawore said. “Lagos is already easing out. Based on what the Finance Ministry and CBN have done, three marketers have brought in cargoes. Tougher days are over.”
For the CBN governor, Mr. Emefiele, there is no need to worry or engage in panic buying, as there is sufficient stock to meet the needs of Nigerians.
He said when the CBN learnt of the issues surrounding the delays by banks to open letters of credit for marketers, the bank met with them and the problems were resolved.
According to him, within a week of those discussions with the banks, letters of credit worth over $500 million have been opened, enough to import about 600 million litres of petrol.
He said despite the recent closure of the foreign exchange windows, the CBN would continue to supply foreign exchange into the interbank market and intervene in a way that would ensure uninterrupted supply of petroleum products.
The Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Mr. Ahmed, said the Minister of Petroleum Resources have already given anticipatory approval for supplementary allocation to eight of the marketers that exhausted their supply from the first quarter.
He said the combined stock of petrol currently stands at 818 million metric tons (over a billion litres) for the month of March.
About 400,000MT (about 500,000 litres) are stored offshore Lagos for distribution to the marketing companies and their depots in Apapa and NNPC facilities in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
The PPMC and PPPRA, Mr. Ahmed said, are discussing with truck owners on how to resolve the distribution problems, saying that total national fuel sufficiency offshore and at the depots could last 33 days.
“This means even without additional fuel importation, the nation can survive for 33 days,” Mr. Ahmed said.