The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in other to enhance the adequate supply of PMS, otherwise known as petrol has become the sole importer of petroleum products, a move which many other players have kicked against.
Analyzing the implications, industry pundits said the new drive is another way of stifling life out of major marketers as it means that only the Corporation remains the sole importer of petroleum products.
Analysts say the development will not mean well for downstream investors who have over the years spent borrowed funds to build infrastructures.
Besides, many of the times, NNPC served as sole importer of products, scarcity had always been the order of the day as it lacks the logistics to saturate the country with products unless major marketers are involved.
According to an industry expert who pleaded anonymity, “What NNPC is doing is killing the downstream operators. NNPC has now combined the jobs of a regulator and player in the downstream sector and that cannot be sustained for too long”.
“It is time for the government to come out boldly and tell Nigerians the truth and nothing but the truth as far as fuel importation is concerned.
The expert argued that “The option so far given to the government by marketers remains the best bet. Major marketers want government to give them strategic tax holidays; a leverage that will take care of the marginal cost raised by landing cost due to high crude oil price at the international market”.
The expert noted that whatever effort the NNPC is making that fails to factor in the place and business of major marketers will not pass the test of time as far as fuel scarcity is concerned.
Even though NNPC had constantly assured Nigerians that the queues would disappear, fuel scarcity situation in Lagos, Abuja and throughout the country remained intractable as where the product is on sale, it is either above recommended pump price with endless queue, or above pump price with seamless purchase.
Observers say the government is currently at cross-roads on the dangers of jerking up fuel price which the situation really needs because of the approaching election year.
The Corporation had last week claimed that it has started bringing in two cargoes of petrol per day for the rest of this month, February, in order to boost supply and eradicate the fuel queues that had resurfaced in many cities across the country.
The statement signed by Mr. Ndu Ughamadu claimed that each of the cargoes would carry 50 million litres of petrol, making a total of 100 million litres that would be brought in daily for the rest of February to increase supply and replenish strategic reserves.
It further stated that to ensure efficient distribution of the product to depots in the hinterland, the Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company, a midstream subsidiary of the NNPC, had been mandated to fix relevant pipelines to facilitate seamless pumping, in addition to the trucking arrangement that was in place.