The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said the ongoing fuel scarcity has continued to linger because of the regulated price regime which had made cost recovery and profitability difficult.
Appearing at a public hearing held by the senate committee on public accounts in Abuja, NNPC GMD, Mainkanti Baru disclosed that the corporation has so far spent $5.8bn on the importation of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol since last year to combat fuel crisis.
Investigations by National Daily revealed that the scarcity which started in December, the longest so far, has persisted as most filling stations still don’t have fuel for sale while the few that have are besieged by long queues.
Recall that the NNPC had embarked on a massive importation after private fuel marketing companies abandoned the trade because of the high landing cost of the fuel.
Maikanti said the NNPC took up the task to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer as a result of product unavailability.
He however pointed out that cross-border smuggling owing to price disparity between Nigeria and neighbouring countries where a litre of petrol sells above N350 per litre as well as logistic issues in trucking products to different locations across the country remained serious challenges in the quest for fuel queue-free situation in the country.
Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, said on Tuesday the government was working on plans to bring in private sector investment in the repair and management of the refineries and get them up to about 90% of capacity.
“That process is almost completed now, probably in a matter of weeks; we will be announcing the winners. We want to get the private sector to be major investors in building new refineries,” he said.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producing country with over 2 million barrels per day of output, imports more than 85% needs of its PMS needs because of inadequate local refining.