With the supply of petroleum products showing signs of stability in some major cities like Abuja, Kano and Lagos, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, says it is adopting fresh measures to guarantee fuel supply to all parts of the country.
The massive truck-out of petrol through the Special Intervention Fuel Supply strategy approved by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, in recent weeks helped restore sanity in fuel distribution and reduce long fuel queues in the major cities across the country.
However, the supply of products to the hinterlands has remained a huge challenge despite the trucking-out of large volumes of petroleum products to the rural areas and deep country side where fuel still sold at prohibitive prices to consumers.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Ohi Alegbe, said despite the current public holidays, over 22 million litres of petrol were released nationwide within the last 24 hours.
The bulk of the volume supplied were delivered to fuel stations in the countryside to ensure adequate products penetration to areas outside the major cities.
On the price modulation policy and subsidy removal issue, Mr. Alegbe said the minister had assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would emphasis products availability and refineries’ efficiency, rather than the fluctuation of price of petrol at the pump.
The minister, who spoke during a tour of the Kaduna Refining & Petrochemical Company on Sunday, assured Nigerians that the NNPC was working hard towards ensuring that full efficiency returned to the country’s refineries.
The country’s four refineries at Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna are expected to produce a combined volume of about 10 million litres of premium motor spirit, PMS, popularly called petrol per day by January 2016.
“The president was very emphatic on this issue. He expects that products should be sold at about N87 per litre for now. He has also given approval for NNPC to look at market trends and make adjustments as need be,” Mr. Kachikwu said.
“My commitment is to provide products at all the time so that there is efficiency in supply, and provide it at the least price possible and have some relationship with what the trends are,” the minister explained.
He, however, observed that when the prices of petroleum products begin to go up, government would look at those trends and see how the prices could be adjusted accordingly to reflect the current situation.
“We are not going to be fluctuating prices on a day to day basis. We are going to take average. When one looks at petrol prices today, there is no subsidy, because prices remain low. But, that is what we need to do. It is the honesty in being able to sell products to Nigerians at affordable prices that makes sense,” Mr. Kachikwu added.
He explained further that at the moment subsidy did not exist, as petrol would still sell at N87 per litre.
However, in January 2016, he said the government would look at the current price trend and announce fuel prices.
“If that is less than N87 per litre, we will announce it; and if it is more than that, we will have to announce it,” he explained.
He restated the federal government’s determination not to continue funding the gap paid on subsidy any longer, which runs into billions of Naira.
“I think everybody is on the same page with government that as much as it is, we need to get out of the subsidy trap. The reliability and affordability of that is an issue. We need to get away from it, whether we believe in subsidy or not,” he said.
On the refineries gradually coming back on stream, the minister said a lot of energy was being deployed to ensuring that the refineries work. He said if the refineries work, the higher the chances that government would fix a “comfortable price” for Nigerians.
He assured Nigerians that by the end of January when all the refineries would become fully functional, the 10 million litres capacity out of the projected 40 million litres national daily consumption would be realized.