By Patience Danjuma
Oil marketers say it is no longer profitable to sell premium motor spirit (PMS) better known as petrol at the rate of N145 per litre.
They made this known on Tuesday during a meeting with top government officials at the presidential villa in Abuja.
Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, presided over the meeting, which was held at the State House conference centre.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru; the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu; and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, were among top government officials that attended the meeting.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, the Chairman of Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPMAN), Dapo Abiodun, said, “Today’s meeting was called at the instance of the Chief of Staff to the President and it was to find out exactly what happened, where we had the problems we had in December with the supply of petrol and how Nigerians were made to go through the pains and suffering.
“He wanted to know the truth and to ensure that going forward this problem will be solved once and for all. And that is why you saw that we sat in here from 2pm and the meeting just finished after three and half hours.
“A lot of issues were raised and a committee was constituted that will be meeting tomorrow under the chairmanship of the Minister of (State for) Petroleum to further go into the nitty-gritty and to ensure that these problems do not occur again.
“From our point of view as marketers, we made our submission known to government and we emphasised the fact that this was not a marketer-related problem. There was no hoarding on the part of any marketer. Marketers are your brothers, they are Nigerian citizens, they are businessmen, no marketer makes money from hoarding petroleum products, our business is to take petrol and sell.
“We explained that the problem that you saw is not willful on the part of anyone; either NNPC or marketers.
“The situation, from our point of view, is that from January to December, the price of crude remained relatively stable. Following the Hurricane Katrina in the month of September, October, crude prices went up and marketers lost the ability to import and sell at N145 per liter.
“Since the price of crude is directly proportional to the refined product, we could not import petrol and sell at N145 anymore. And this business is a partnership between marketers and NNPC. Marketers bring in a certain volume and NNPC also brings in a certain volume.”
Abiodun said government has the responsibility of taking certain steps to curtail the scarcity of petroleum in future.
He said, “In the past marketers bring in about 60 per cent while NNPC brings in 35 to 40 per cent. But by the month of October, marketers completely stopped importing because there was no more subsidy so we can’t sell for profit so we had to stop importing.
“So, the burden of importing 100% now fell on NNPC. So you can imagine a situation where NNPC was importing in part and marketers were importing in part and then suddenly NNPC begins to import 100 per cent, coupled with the fact that in the months we called the ember months from October to December, the consumption of petrol is highest in the country.
“So, you now have what we call a double warning. NNPC is suddenly finding it is importing what they probably didn’t expect in terms of volume and the fact that Nigerians themselves are consuming more volume than they will normally consume in earlier months, coupled with the fact that the countries that surround us as a nation are all selling fuel at more than $1 per liter. $1 today is about N360. If you go to Cotonou, Ghana, Niger; it is not unlikely that some of our petrol is finding itself across the body to these countries.
“All these are issues we believe amounted to what we saw in December but thankfully NNPC rose to the occasion, they stepped up import and stepped up supplies and the situation has since normalized.
“Today’s meeting is to ensure that this does not happen again and this we are going to continue tomorrow in the committee that was set up under the chairmanship of the Minister of State for Petroleum to ensure that we find a long-lasting and enduring solution to this problem so that Nigerians will not have to go through this harrowing situation again.”