Fuel Scarcity May Persist Over The Next Two Months – Kachikwu
SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, (THEWILL) – Minister of State for Petroleum and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has disclosed that it may take another two months to fully fix the issue of fuel scarcity being encountered in the country.
Speaking with journalists, on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, as he led members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, Kachukwu said there was no magic wand to change the situation of things overnight.
“One of the training I did not receive is that of a magician, but I am working very hard to ensure some of these issues go away. And let’s be honest, for the five or six months we have been here, NNPC has moved from a 50 percent importer of products to basically a 100 percent importer. And the 445 barrels that were allocated was to cover between 50 and 55 percent importation,” he said.
“So it's quite frankly shear magic that we even have the amount of product at the stations. We are looking to see how to get foreign exchange input, the President and I discussed extensively on how to get more crude directed at importation.
“His Excellency will rather have less crude but have individuals in the society suffer less with inconveniences than have more crude and have them continue to suffer. So, we are going to put a new model to enable us increase the pace and actually get majors as part of the crew of those to bring in more products so that the NNPC will sort of go back to the capacity of what it used to do and the majors will take over the balance of importation.
“So, over the next two months, we should see quite frankly a complete elimination of this.
“Our strategy is that whatever is produced in the refineries will not go for sale, we are going to keep them in strategic reserve. Because the key problem here is that there is no reserve anytime, there is a gap in supply it goes off.
“So, we are going to dedicate the next couple of months to moving all the products that we produce to strategic reserve so that we can pile up reserves in the nation, and that will push up the reserves in the nation. Believe me, this is giving me and my team sleepless nights and we are working on it and we are committed to making this go away, Nigerians should please bear with us.”
Kachukwu added that it was the first time the unions were meeting with Buhari to review the concerns in the oil industry including job loss, the utilisation of depots, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), fuel scarcity issue as well as the refineries for which “we are thankful we didn’t sell”.
“They are worried about job loss in the sector arising from the position of majors who feel that the economy is giving the rough end of the sticks and then try to whittle down staff. And so we are going to be working with the oil majors to ensure that we do not experience the kind of job loss that we are hearing has the potential to occur in the sector,” he said.
Igwe Achese and Olabode Johnson, Presidents of NUPENG and PENGASSAN respectively, told journalists that President assured them that the unions will continue to be part of the ongoing restructuring in the NNPC and in the oil and gas sector.