Fuel Scarcity: Senate to meet with CBN over forex restriction

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…as FG set to grant refineries semi autonomy

As a result of the complains by oil marketers that they are finding it difficult to procure foreign exchange to import fuel, the Senate has assured the marketers that it would meet with the CBN on how to resolve the debacle.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Downstream, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife gave this assurance during a visit to some depots in Lagos. According to her, the essence of the visit was to investigate the ongoing fuel scarcity despite assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that there were enough PMS in the country.

She said the Committee discovered that the unavailability of foreign exchange to the marketers actually hindered the marketers from importing the product. Ekwunife assured the marketers that the Committee would engage the CBN to speedy sales of foreign exchange to marketers in other to find a lasting solution to the perennial problem fuel scarcity.

“If marketers are able to assess the forex on time as at when due this would go a long way in addressing issues of fuel scarcity in the country,’’ she said.

Ekwunife said that the committee would also discuss with CBN on ways marketers foreign exchange differentials can be paid on time to address ongoing fuel importation challenges.

She, however, lauded Nigerian Independent Petroleum Company (NIPCO) for their support to the national development in ensuring effective and prompt loading of petrol from their gantry to the stations across the country.

Meanwhile, the federal has said that it is working out a new operational model with which Nigeria’s four refineries would run starting from 2016. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stated that under the new arrangement, the refineries would operate as semi-autonomous business entities, buying and refining petroleum products and making remittances to the government coffers.

Kachikwu with the new model, Nigerians would see a positive dramatic turn in the refinery operations in the country, adding that going forward, the new refinery model would not only meet the petroleum products need of the country but that of the West African sub region.
Currently, Nigeria largely relies on imported petrol to run the economy, a situation that has remained difficult for it to cope with, especially meeting up with huge financial commitments for subsi dy on petrol.

Speaking further, he said government had expressed its readiness to raise funds from international investors and the private sector in 2016 to fund the Joint Venture (JV) cash calls between the NNPC and International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country.

He said already, high level discussions were underway with local and international investors to bridge the perennial JV cash call funding gap.

The minister noted that the initiative is geared towards freeing the government from bearing the burden of funding capital intensive projects in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry.
Kachikwu further stated that in the years ahead, the NNPC’s over 5000 kilometers of pipelines across the length and breadth of the country would be privatised in order to enhance efficient management of the infrastructure and to bring to the barest minimum the high incidence of pipeline vandalism currently plaguing the sector.

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