The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC on Wednesday asked Nigerians to ignore speculations about possible increase in the prices of petroleum products.
Following last Monday’s N1 (about 16.4 per cent) review of the bridging allowance to transporters from N6.20 to N7.20 per litre, speculations were rife that government was preparing grounds for another increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly called petrol, from the prevailing price.
But, the Chief Operating Officer, COO, in charge of Downstream operations of the Corporation, Henry Ikem-Obih, said in Abuja on Wednesday there was no such plan by government or any of its agencies to review the pump price of petrol above the current N145 per litre.
Mr. Ikem-Obih explained that the review of the bridging cost was achieved after an adjustment was made in the “lightering expenses” from N4 to N3 per litre, pointing out the difference was transferred to compensate for the cost of bridging in the pricing template.
The bridging allowance refers to the cost element built into the products pricing template to ensure a uniform price of petrol across the country, while lightering expenses involve charges for moving products to depot area from mother vessels by light vessels due to the inability of the former to berth in shallow water depth.
“What happened, in simple language, is a rebalancing of the margins allowed and approved for stakeholders. So, what the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, did was to take N1 from lightering expenses and add same to the bridging allowance. That is how we arrived at N7.20. Therefore, PMS remains at the ceiling of N145 per litre,’’ he said.
On the availability of product, the COO said the country had about 1.3 billion litres of petrol, which translated to an inventory of about 36 days’ sufficiency.
“What this means is that even if we stop importation or refining of petrol right now, we have enough products in-country to provide for the needs of every Nigerian for a period of 36 days,’’ he said.
Mr. Ikem-Obih noted that the supply availability was bolstered with the production of petrol from the three refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.
“There is absolutely no risk of shortage in supply as we also continue to import to support the production from the refineries, we have informed the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to enforce the prevailing N145 per litre price regime and also ensure that every service station that has fuel is selling to the public,’’ he said.
He reiterated the readiness of the NNPC Management under the leadership of Maikanti Baru to sustain the existing cordial relations between the NNPC and the leadership of the downstream industry unions and other stakeholders.
He said the DPR, which is the regulatory arm of the industry, had been alert to sanction fuel station owners who engage in hoarding or charge consumers in excess of the approved pump price of petrol.
The NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru, had announced the review of the bridging allowance on Monday at a mediation meeting between the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, which led to the suspension of a strike action embarked upon by members of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers.