Fuel scarcity may continue till 2013- NNPC official

Fuel scarcity spreads nationwide
Fuel scarcity used to illustrate the story.

Petroleum Industry players want a deregulation of the downstream sector

A top official of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency has said that the fuel scarcity being experienced in various states across Nigeria would continue till the first quarter of 2013 “if something urgent is not done.”

The official, in an interview, Monday, with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, said the scarcity would continue “because the demand for the product has over-shot supply.”

A PREMIUM TIMES survey showed how marketers were taking advantage of the fuel scarcity to fleece Nigerians of billions of naira by selling petrol above the subsidized pump price in many states, while inefficient government agencies looked away or gave excuses.

The official, who did not want his name disclosed, therefore, called for the total deregulation of the downstream sector as a way out of the lingering fuel scarcity sweeping across the country. He said a multi-phased deregulation process was the only way out of the scarcity.

“I think the full deregulation of the downstream sector will be the way out of the lingering fuel crises we are experiencing,” the official said.

The official, who decried the lingering scarcity, called for adequate enlightenment and the provision of cushioning measures before the total removal of subsidy. He said the delay in the payment of subsidy arrears to most marketers contributes immensely to the current scarcity as only the NNPC is currently importing the product.

He said that for the deregulation process to be effective there was a need to resuscitate the country’s refineries, build adequate fuel reserves, tank farms, and functional pipeline network.

Marketers want full deregulation

The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Obafemi Olawore, said the full deregulation of the downstream sector would bring about efficiency in the sector and signal an end to the perennial fuel crises.

He explained that most oil marketers stopped the importation of the product since the beginning of the year due to what they described as “discrepancies in subsidy payment” which they said is responsible for the current scarcity.

The Chairman, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, Dapo Abiodun, also called for the deregulation of the sector as a way of sanitising it.

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