By Folarin Emmanuel,Abuja
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has raised alarm over the sustained nefarious activities of some cross-border fuel smuggling syndicates and hoarders.
The Corporation lamented that activities of these smugglers “have so far impeded its efforts to sanitize the fuel supply and distribution matrix across the country.”
Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of the Corporation, told the Joint National Assembly Committee on Petroleum Downstream that if the activities of the fuel truck diverters and smugglers were left unchecked, it would be absolutely difficult to guarantee round-the-clock availability of petrol throughout the country due to the massive leakages wrought on the fuel supply and distribution network by the smugglers.
In a detailed presentation to the Joint Committee, the Baru, informed that the sudden and unnatural shock in fuel consumption to record levels has over-stretched the Direct-Sale-Direct-Supply (DSDP) crude for product supply arrangement which was originally based on 35 million per day petrol consumption pattern.
He lamented that with the current unprecedented average daily fuel evacuation of 55 million litres since 1st December 2017 to date, it was imperative for the security agencies to close-in on the smuggling syndicates who were cashing in on the obvious petrol price differentials between Nigeria and neighboring countries to make illicit profit.
Baru explained that apart from straining the ability of NNPC to sustain the prevailing 100 percent PMS importation in the face of increasing cost, the current situation was impacting negatively on NNPC’s resources for servicing Joint Venture Cash-Call and other obligations.
He said to sustain adequate supply of petroleum products and national energy security, there was the need for the Federal Government to provide flush volumes in January & March, 2018, as well as create enabling environment for other oil marketing companies to participate in the importation of petroleum products.
He also noted the need to double supply in order to raise the fuel sufficiency template back to the 30 days threshold from the current 15 days by bringing in at least two vessels per day for 20 days.
Baru, however, explained that the Corporation would require additional funding outside the DSDP regime to achieve this.
The GMD listed the measures put in place to tackle the prevailing challenges to include: Engagement of the Nigerian Navy, Federal Road Safety Corps and Civil Defence to improve truck movement; engagement of the Nigerian Army Engineers to remove failed trucks on the Jebbba/Mokwa Road which had hitherto slowed down truck movement to the northern part of the country; repairs of about 10km stretch of bad roads and sustained assistance to tankers among others.
In addition the NNPC has deployed several tug boats to help pull out grounded DPK vessel at Escravos bar which had made it difficult for PMS laden vessels to access the strategic Oghara products reception facilities and jetty among other palliatives.
He said in addition to the regular DSDP monthly programmed deliveries, the Corporation had imported 12 cargoes (nine in December, 2017, and three in January, 2018).
Responding, Chairman of the NASS Joint Committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, charged NNPC to resolve the situation within the next seven days.