NNPC injects 688 million liters of petrol into the system

By The Rainbow

TheNigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has  injected additional 688 million litres of petrol into the market, to avert nationwide scarcity.

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala met with oil marketers in Lagos and promised to pay the N264 billion outstanding subsidy claims by the end of March to ensure there is no supply breach.

The Group General Manager in charge of Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe said in a statement on Friday  that the NNPC had already increased substantially, the volume of petroleum products distributed to marketers.

The NNPC has also called on members of the public not to engage in panic purchase and hoarding of petroleum products as it is working with all downstream industry stakeholders to eliminate the noticeable artificially induced fuel queues in some fuel stations.

Fuel sells in excess of N100 per litre in many states of the South East and the North despite the recent reduction in the pump price of petrol to N87 per litre.

Petrol dealers in the affected areas said that they were compelled to sell above the stipulated  pump price because they obtain th products at about N97 per litre.

Ale gbe said the NNPC was injecting additional volume of 600, 103.047 metric tonnes of premium motor spirit,the equivalent of 688 million litres of petrol into the market within the next 48 hours, to arrest any short fall that may have been triggered by the unnecessary fears of an imminent scarcity of product.

Okonjo-Iweala had earlier promised that the government would pay N264 billion to fuel marketers as outstanding claims on subsidy, foreign exchange, differentials and interest on delayed payment by the end of March.

The commitment by the minister was to avert the threat by the marketers to stop importation on account of the refusal of banks to provide credit facilities due to the huge outstanding claims.

This development was the outcome of a closed-door meeting between the minister and the chief executive officers of some of the Oil Marketing and Trading (OM and T) companies in Lagos.

The Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore, who confirmed the agreement, told journalists that with the minister's assurance, the marketers would play their own part to ensure that any form of scarcity of products at this period is averted

“We have outstanding subsidy and outstanding foreign exchange and interest. You recall that last year, the federal government, through the Ministry of Finance paid us about N345 billion, which was mainly for 2013 and part of 2014. However, we still have some outstanding claims for 2014 and early part of 2015. The total invoices already sent and processed are about N164 billion on subsidies. On foreign exchange and interest combined, the total amount is around N100 billion now,” Olawore said.

According to him, Okonjo-Iweala had given the marketers a schedule of payment between now and the end of March, which was acceptable to the marketers.

“This means that we believe her and we may only have cause not to believe her if at the end of March, nothing happens. But we believe her. So, the product supply that was actually going to go down will have to pick up, which means that we need to assure ourselves that even if we notice any tightness in product supply anywhere, for the sake of Monday meeting, it is a temporary tightness. Therefore, there will be products,” he added.

He further stated that the minister also promised to pay interest on subsidy claims that are delayed beyond the 45 days stipulated in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) guidelines.

Olawore said the marketers' woes were compounded by the recent devaluation of the naira, which made it impossible for the marketers and Nigerians to enjoy the relief arising from the drop in the international price of crude oil.

The Federal Government is fighting to ensure that scarcity does not resurface in this election cycle. Petrol supply stability is one of the key achievements of this administration which most Nigerians appear to have taken forgranted.

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