Queues surface in Abuja as depots hike price to N710/litre

Fresh queues for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, surfaced in Abuja, parts of Niger and Nasarawa States on Friday, following the closure of many filling stations operated by independent marketers.

Dealers closed their retail outlets due to their inability to access petrol as a result of the hike in the ex-depot price of the commodity to N710/litre by private depot owners.

Motorists besieged the few stations that dispensed petrol on Friday, particularly those operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and some major oil marketers in Abuja and neighbouring states.

This led to massive queues in outlets, such as the NNPC mega station on the Gwarimpa axis of the Zuba-Kubwa Expressway, Conoil and Total filling stations directly opposite the headquarters of NNPC in the Abuja city centre, and Salbas filling station at the Dei-Dei end of the Zuba-Kubwa expressway, among others.

Independent oil marketers, who own over 70 per cent of filling stations across the country, blamed the hike in the ex-depot price of petrol as dispensed by private depot owners.

The National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abubakar Maigandi, told Saturday PUNCH that private depot owners had raised the ex-depot price of PMS to N710/litre, whereas the pump price of the commodity at NNPC retail stations was N617/litre.

Maigandi said, “The current situation is a result of how the private depot owners have been selling their products. It has been very difficult for independent petroleum marketers to get the product and sell it in Abuja and neighbouring states, as well as in other states in the North.

“So, the queues you are seeing now are because of the cost of PMS by private depots. The private depots are selling at N710/litre, but if you check the price of the same product at NNPC retail outlets, it is N617/litre.

“Therefore, by the time the independent marketers buy from private depots and bring it to our filling stations, we will not be able to sell our product because our cost price is already so high, while the cost at NNPC retail outlets is far lower.

“And you know that when we buy it at the rate of N710/litre, we have to add transportation cost again because there is no equalisation. And when we add the cost of transportation, the pump price is going to be higher than the N710/litre ex-depot price, whereas NNPC stations sell at N617/litre.”

Maigandi explained that because of the widespread number of stations operated by IPMAN, any distortion in the supply of products to members of the group would lead to fuel queues because major marketers and NNPC stations were fewer in number.

On whether IPMAN members cannot get direct PMS supply from NNPC, instead of buying the product from private depots, he replied, “That is what we have been negotiating with them (NNPC), and they promised us that they will start giving us our allocation.

“They have started, but the quantity is small compared to the number of retail outlets operated by IPMAN nationwide. We are getting products from NNPC, but the volume is too small for our members.

“So, we are requesting additional volumes because, in Abuja alone, we have over 250 retail outlets belonging to IPMAN members. This is just for Abuja. We have not talked about Niger, Kaduna, and other states in the North, not to mention the number nationwide.”

Maigandi, however, stated that the queues for petrol were not pronounced in remote villages, adding that “when you go to the villages, you will see that there are no queues.”.

“But in the city centres, where you have NNPC stations selling very cheaper than the N710/litre price, you will see queues there, as well as in front of the few outlets that have products to dispense.”

The IPMAN president said petrol was not scarce, as there were enough volumes in-country concerning what was imported by NNPC – Nigeria’s sole importer of the commodity.

“There is no scarcity. There is the product. The queues are caused basically by the market challenge, as I have explained to you. But as soon as we get products from NNPC or at fairly good prices, we will dispense and the queues will vanish,” he stated.

Officials at the Federal Minister of Petroleum Resources confirmed that there was enough product in-country, and stated that the market had been deregulated.

“It is a deregulated downstream oil sector, so dealers buy and sell based on demand and supply. There is enough product from NNPC. There is no scarcity,” an official at the ministry, who requested not to be named due to a lack of authorisation to speak on the matter, stated.

Another official at NNPC assured motorists that the queues would clear out fast because the company had enough product in-country.

Source: The Punch


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