• Pricing regulator remains silent, operators seek clarity
As more marketers raised the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) on Thursday, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria have voiced their opposition to the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector when the country is still relying on imports for refined products.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency had yet to issue its guiding retail petrol price for the month of Thursday, leaving operators confused.
Following the sharp drop in crude oil prices which led to the reduction in the pump price of petrol in March, the PPPRA had said it would advise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and oil marketing companies on the monthly guiding retail price at which the product shall be sold across the country.
In July, the agency announced a new price band of N140.80 to N143.80 per litre, up from N121.50 to N123.50 per litre in June.
Although it released the ex-depot price for the commodity on Tuesday, the PPPRA had since remained silent as regards the guiding retail price for the month.
It increased the ex-depot price by N6 to N138.62/litre for the month, a development that prompted marketers to hike the pump price of the product to between N148 and N150/litre.
The Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, 11Plc, Tunji Oyebanji, told one of our correspondents that some members of the association had increased petrol price to N148-N148.80 per litre.
He said marketers had interpreted PPPRA’s silence to mean that they should go ahead to fix the price themselves.
“There is a need for some clarity. If we are to fix the price of the product, we should be told so. There is a lot of confusion and people are not clear as to the direction. All we have is silence,” he added.
When contacted to get the PPPRA’s comment on the development, its spokesperson, Kimchi Apollo, again did not answer phone calls on Thursday.
Apollo had told one of our correspondents on Monday that the agency had yet to complete its work on a new pump price for petrol.
The General Secretary, NUPENG, Mr Afolabi Olawale, said any form of deregulation based on the importation of petroleum products would not help Nigerians.
He said, “Our position is that we don’t support any form of deregulation that is based on importation. We support deregulation that is based on local refining of products.
“If we are refining in the country, a lot of costs will be taken away and Nigerians will be able to benefit. But as long as we are not refining, Nigerians will keep experiencing an increase in fuel prices if crude oil price continues to rise.
“Nigerians are suffering; the country is in a dire situation, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Things are hard, and we add a higher cost of transportation to it; it is going to be a very terrible period for Nigerians.”
The National Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, said the Federal Government should ensure that the nation’s refineries “are fully commercialised using the Nigeria LNG model.”
Petrol stations in Abuja and neighbouring states of Nasarawa and Niger on Thursday adjusted their pumps upwards as they dispensed the product at between N148 to N149 per litre.
The two filling stations in front of the headquarters of the NNPC, Conoil and Total, for instance, moved up their petrol prices to N148.7/litre and 148.8/litre respectively on Thursday.
The South West chapter of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, on Thursday, directed all its members in the zone to increase the pump price of PMS to N150 per litre.
IPMAN South West Zonal Chairman, Alhaji Dele Tajudeen, who spoke with journalists in Abeokuta, said the directive became necessary in order to avert the planned shutdown of the filling stations across the zone.
While berating the PPPRA for what he described as “policy inconsistency”, Tajudeen lamented that the PPPRA’s new depot price had subjected IPMAN members to a serious dilemma.
IPMAN, Rivers State chapter, on Thursday, bemoaned the state of the nation’s refineries, saying the first refinery built in 1965 in Port Harcourt had not functioned for 22 years.
The Chairman, IPMAN in Rivers State, Dr Obele Ngechu, stated this in Port Harcourt on Thursday while reacting to the new ex-depot price of petrol.
He said, “For 17 years now, Kaduna refinery is not working. Two years now, Warri refinery is not working. For three years now, the new Port Harcourt refinery is not working; and for 22 years, the first Nigerian refinery is not working.
“Information reaching us now is that the monthly allocation of crude oil for local refining for these four refineries are still being giving to them till tomorrow and they are selling it in dollars.”