FG’s delay in approving petroleum products import allocation worries marketers

By The Citizen

Nigeria may be heading for fresh rounds of fuel scarcity as oil marketers wait endlessly for the Federal Government to give approval for the importation of petroleum products for this quarter.

The marketers have become increasingly apprehensive as January rounds off without the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) releasing the approval for marketers to import products.

Mr Obafemi Olawore, Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), told newsmen in an interview in Lagos on Thursday that the association members were now on edge over the inability of the PPPRA to release the importation approval.

He said that the delay by the PPPRA to release the approval might cause acute scarcity of products in the near future.

“If we don't get approval on time, it will affect our ability to import products and this will in turn delay distribution of products nationwide.

“The management of PPPRA should release allocations immediately to avoid products scarcity in the country.

Olawore expressed worry that no marketer had been given allocation approval this quarter.

According to him, the country has limited products in stock and the relevant authorities must do something “because a stitch in time saves nine''.

An independent marketer, who pleaded anonymity, also lamented that the nation might be on its way to experiencing acute shortage of fuel, following the inability of government to place order for first quarter importation allocation.

“Available stocks are depleting on daily basis. If drastic actions are not taken to import fuel, the nation will likely witness severe fuel shortage.

A leading marketer, who also spoke on the issue, said that acute fuel scarcity might hit the nation soon.

“We are ending one month into this quarter but nothing seems to be happening, the implication is that Nigeria may be on course to facing fresh rounds of fuel scarcity crisis.

“Supply vessels are off-shore attracting demurrage and there is no inkling on when the approval for importation of products will be given by the PPPRA.

“The downstream is currently on edge and anxiety is mounting among fuel marketers because of the non-release of the approval for first quarter importation,'' the marketer stated.

Speaking on the development, Mr Chris Igwe, the Managing Director, Mainland Oil and Gas Ltd., said that the delay in releasing importation approval might not be unconnected with the penchant of the PPPRA to follow due process.

“The Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Mr Reginald Stanley, is a man of integrity and a man who follows due process.

“What happened is that some of the lay cans given to marketers are still on till January and you know they will need to appraise the performance of each marketer before giving new allocations.

“For instance, if any marketer fails to perform for the previous quarter, it will affect your next quarter.

“It is also the same way if your performance is good you stand the chance of getting more, so, you can see that what drives PPPRA is performance.

Igwe said: “there is nothing unusual about the delay in quarter allocation, adding “it will soon be out as and when due.

The executive secretary of the PPPRA could not be reached for comments on the development.

He did not respond to phone calls and text messages.

But a source in the agency said: 'The PPPRA has completed its documentation and has presented the list of marketers to the ministry of petroleum resources for approval.

“We are presently waiting for the ministry to grant approval before we can engage the marketers to import fuel.

'We have done what is expected of us. It is only when we secure approval that the marketers would be engaged to carry out the first quarter fuel importation.'

Oil-producing Nigeria has often faced crippling fuel scarcity but the problem has apparently been checked by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigerians did not experience fuel scarcity during the just-concluded Christmas and New Year festivities.

However, THE CITIZEN gathered from a reliable source at the agency who pleaded for anonymity that the Executive Secretary of PPPRA has been unable to get the allocation signed off and that is the principal reason why the allocation has not been made public.

“The allocation has been ready since but unfortunately, our boss has been unable to get  it signed off or get approval. And we cannot publish it until it is approved. So the marketers have to wait because there is absolutely nothing we can do at this point,” he said.