The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, has disclosed that up to 4,500 trucks of petrol were diverted last month during the fuel scarcity.
Mr. Baru made this disclosure while speaking before a meeting of the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives. The meeting was organised to find a lasting solution to the fuel crisis.
He explained that the diversion of trucks of petroleum products was one of the major reasons for the recent fuel scarcity which caused many Nigerians to experience a bleak holiday.
“We noticed in the data analysis that up to 4,500 trucks did not complete the ‘acquilla process’.”
Explaining the acquilla process, Mr. Baru said that it is a process which requires that a tanker returns to the ‘loading point’ after it has discharged it’s cargo to a particular filling station, for verification that the products had reached the destination.
“Up to 4,500 trucks of products were diverted. We are not just saying this, we have proof. These 4,500 trucks that did not return, are believed to have been diverted. And investigations are ongoing to know if they have really been diverted”, he added.
He said ”a rumour in the media” of an impending hike in pump price also contributed to the scarcity.
“There was a frenzy in terms of moving products to the major consumption centres (which) were taken away to be sold at a different price. We tackled that by reassuring Nigerians that there is sufficient supply and there is no issue concerning the increase in price of fuel, the DPR have not made any announcement and we have not been directed by the Federal Government to increase the price of fuel.
“PENGASSAN decided to announce a strike action from the 18th of December which led to panic buying. People with more than one car came out to fill all the cars and some even bought in jerry cans to save for the future,” he said.
Speaking on actions taken to resolve the scarcity, the GMD explained that the NNPC has increased its surveillance in partnership with DPR and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“We directed 24 hours operation in all depots to ensure 24 hours loading of products. NNPC, in response to the crisis, brought in six extra cargoes, 300 million litres, as additional imports to increase sufficiency. We have re-activated and re-streamed the Kaduna and Port-Harcourt refineries. Kaduna has been contributing 3.25 million barrels per day and Port-Harcourt contributes 3 million,” he said.
While sympathising with Nigerians over the discomfort experienced during Yuletide, Mr. Baru said the queues “have disappeared from the filling stations in Abuja for about a week now and in Lagos for over 10 days.”
He further explained that Nigerians consume between 27 and 35 million litres of PMS per day, adding that due to ”massive diversion, hoarding, panic buying and smuggling, coupled with information that three DSDP consortia had rejected October cargoes, there was insinuation of a supply gap.”
“Our surrounding countries are selling for not less than N300 and above. Countries like Cameroon sell for N407. That large price differential, N145 to N400, is a large prospect for smugglers”, he said.
He said there were complaints that the Independent Petroleum Marketing Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) charged N133.28 per litre, ‘although there was no evidence.”
“If any member of IPMAN or DAPPMA was caught, they would have been sanctioned and their licences seized.
“PTD and NARTO also complain that they have aged trucks, high duty tariffs on spare parts as well as bad roads and unions complain of shortage of manpower and outstanding payments,” he said.
He recommended a continuous application of sanctions on erring marketers and sustenance of vigilance by regulators.
Fuel scarcity ravaged parts of Nigeria during Yuletide putting a pall on the annual celebrations. Although it has largely abated, there are still reports of crisis in supply and hike in prices in some states across the federation.
In some states, many filling stations that have the product still sell at over N200 per litre, contrary to the N145 per litre official price.