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Kerosene scarcity bites harder

kero

Acute kerosene scarcity has hit consumers nationwide. The development may force residents to use charcoal and firewood which experts say are harmful, besides having seri­ous consequence on the envi­ronment Indeed, for years running, Nigerians had to contend with scarcity of kerosene, queuing long hours and in some cases, sleeping at few retail stations that have the commodity, even at exorbitant prices and far above the recommended retail price of N50 per litre. Findings show that the scar­city has worsened as no retail station in Lagos and Ogun states have the stock. The situation at the Apapa depot is very worrisome as many marketers including NIPCO, Aiteo, Conoil, Forte Oil, Mobil, among others, can­not boast of a litre of kerosene in their storage tanks. The situation may have been further compounded by the inability of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to issue import licences, on one hand and the Petroleum Prod­ucts Pricing Regulatory Agen­cy (PPPRA) to release import permit, on the other hand. Claims by the Nige­rian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) on its website that it injected 1,289,801,298 litres of kero­sene into the market between January and November 2015,may have been punc­tured with prevailing realities, as marketers have since faulted the claim, insisting that for the better part of last year, kero­sene was not available at the depots. At the moment, only the NNPC imports kerosene, and it supplies NNPC retail sta­tions and a few major and in­dependent marketers to retail. Unfortunately, the four re­fineries that ought to have come to the rescue are per­forming far below capacity utilization, a situation which has led the NNPC to begin tinkering with the option of bringing in private operators to run them. But, stakeholders have con­sistently faulted the supply monopoly given the NNPC as far as kerosene imports are concerned, submitting that the corporation lacks the capacity to supply the entire country’s kerosene needs, since it re­mained a household and indus­trial commodity with multiple uses. Worsening the situation, the Federal Government through a memo signed by L.N.S Madubuike, on behalf of the Managing Director, Pipeline Product Marketing Company(PPMC),Mrs. Esther Nnamdi Ogbue, directed pe­troleum depots to sell DPK at N73.37k per litre from the ini­tial price of N40.90k per litre. Reacting to the twin chal­lenge of scarcity and price change,an industry source who pleaded not to be named, said the shortage would not abate until the NNPC relaxes its mo­nopoly approach on kerosene importation. It lamented that a situation where government is trying to deregulate the sector through the backdoor portends grave danger for the economy and downstream sector at large. The source also expressed concern that even when the product was sold at N50 a litre, marketers don’t have access to it not to talk of when it has di­rected that the product be sold at a higher price. Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corpora­tion (NNPC), is consulting with stakeholders to seek sup­port for the planned expansion of its retail outlets across the country. The move is to ensure efficient distribution of prod­ucts. Under the plan, NNPC will expand the market share of its retail business to an appre­ciable level from the current 12 per cent by building a mega station in all the 109 senatorial districts in the country. Flagging off the consulta­tions last week with a visit to the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, the Group Executive Director (GED), Commercial and Investment, Babatunde Adeniran, who led the delegation, said the visit was to solicit for the support of government to provide lands for building new NNPC petrol stations in the state. “Our mission is to build three mega stations, one each in the three senatorial districts of the state. We need about five thousand square meters for each of the station. Each station will have six pumps including that of Liquefied Pe­troleum Gas which is cooking gas,” the GED said. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natu­ral Gas Workers (NUPENG) will from tomorrow shut down operations of the Lagos State Government and its other agencies in protest against al­leged N224 million debt. Already, the union said over 1,000 tankers have been mo­bilized to block the entrances of the state government secre­tariat at Alausa, Ikeja, as well as other offices belonging to the state. The South-west Chairman of the union, Tokunbo Korodo, said the union had already in­formed the police about the protest expected to force the state government to pay.

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