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For sometimes now, the Federal Government has vigorously and confidently been putting up machineries and necessary conventions to transform the Nigerian oil and Gas industry.

In this process, the aspiration of the downstream have been to achieve self sufficiency in refining, ensure regular and uninterrupted domestic supply of petroleum products at reasonable prices, establish facilities and infrastructure for the production of refined products targeted at export market and support to domestic petrochemicals, create value and provide gainful employment thus enabling Nigerians to acquire technical know-how in refining and distribution business.

Pipelines and products marketing company (PPMC) Limited as a major hub of the above aspirations in the downstream is to ensure supply of petroleum products to the domestic market at low operating costs; market special products competitively in the domestic and international markets and efficiently transporting crude oil to the refineries; and moving petroleum products to the market.

However, these expectations from PPMC have been smoke screened by variables. The question therefore has been, "how can PPMC be effective amidst myriads of protracted challenges facing the company". For several years, the downstream sector was characterized by product scarcity at fuel stations arising from low refinery capacity utilizations, poor state of supply and distribution infrastructure, very low level of stocks at depots, Aging vessels, storage limitations and equipment obsolescence. There were also rampant fire accidents as a result of adulteration of fuel pipeline vandalization, large scale smuggling of products due to unfavorable economic product prices at the country’s borders with neighboring countries and low investment opportunities in the sector.

The Federal Government, apparently to show high level of sensitivity in PPMC and to free Nigerians from their apprehension therefore appointed a new Managing Director for the Company recently. The appointment should be seen as a resolve by the government to gear PPMC into a greater height for efficiency. The intent of the Government to move the Company forward compelled it to ignore cherry picking of a new M.D for the Company. The Federal Government had not upset any applecart in the appointment of Mr. Sammy Okeke as the helmsman of the Company. Mr. Okeke as revealed by his profile is an experienced man who gives little credence to hype but enormous weight to actual accomplishment in the areas of work. He has been a denizen of the Oil and Gas industry, and the type who gets things over the goal line. Indeed, he has been acclaimed as an astute experienced economist and has not been pictured doing needlepoint in the industry. His appointment is therefore based on soubriquets of hard work, discipline and accomplishment.

However, in the Oil and Gas industry, significant progress has been made. For the first time in several years, refinery capacity utilization in all time high averaging 75% across all three refineries. This has resulted in a significant reduction of product importation. In addition, all depots across the country are wet with products except probably the Ore depot. 

Supply logistics have improved through better programming network stability. This is quite significant and commendable to the Federal Government and PPMC. In all, the zeal to become an efficient technology driven stakeholders oriented and proactive partner in facilitating the transportation and distribution of petroleum products nationwide should remain as the driving force of the management of PPMC.

Apart from the well known problem of pipeline vandalization that has become a sclerosis to one of PPMC’s functional arteries, the management has to identify other areas of operational deficiencies in the system through a better and superior information and technology driven methods in the entire operation of the company. Again, government effort and support cannot alone transform PPMC into what we want it to be. The Germaine and unstinting support of the general public is highly desirable. To know the disease is just half the cure. Communities, organizations and individuals should have the grit to report to the appropriate authority on any nefarious activity on the pipes or along the pipelines. No organization, community, security and law enforcement agency or individual should connive with the criminals. In this ways we could then hope to see the kind of healthy PPMC we expect.

Uche A. Uche writes from Central Area Abuja and can be reached on [email protected]

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