The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, has shut down seven private depots for loading petrol above the Federal Government approved N148 per litre.
Independent petroleum marketers had in the past months complained that they were buying the product above N200 per litre from the private depots, making it impossible for them to sell the product at government approved price.
Speaking to journalists on New Year’s eve in Abuja, the Authority Chief Executive, Engr. Farouk Ahmed said the depots would remain shut until a decision is reached on how to proceed.
He listed the companies to include Ardova, Rainoil, TCL, Bluefin, and NEPAL.
Engr. Ahmed said two of the depots are in Lagos, two in Warri, one each in Oghara, Port Harcourt and Calabar.
He assured consumers that the closure would have any impact on the supply of petrol across the country, explaining there is about 30 days of petrol sufficiency.
He noted that as part of efforts to ease petrol scarcity, the Authority has had several engagements with the marketers on how to resolve supply challenges faced by the operators.
He however observed that it was discovered that despite obtaining the product on favourable terms, some privately owned depots were discovered to continue loading the product above government approved price.
He said: “As the government and regulators, we had several engagements with all the stakeholders including the major marketers, independent marketers, transporters, the suppliers, the NNPC as well as other relevant entities interested parties to see how we can address the distribution bottlenecks.
“Now, the market is not deregulated. So we’re still in a regulated environment as far as the gasoline or petrol is concerned, agitations and complaints were addressed.
“For example, when we started with the transporters, The President approved additional N10 for transporters to cover the transportation costs as a result of the high costs of diesel which is the main source of transporting other products as other products are across the country.
With regards to marketing companies, there was an increase in the freight rate related to the calls on the actual cost of bunkers. For example, Lagos to Lagos, in the past used to be about 16 to $19,000 a day to charter so then it escalated to about $35 to $40,000 per day, to Calabar, for example, it had equally increased.
“Then we sat down with the marketing companies and agreed to give them some palliatives through NNPC, as well as through our own regulatory control areas. But the market has continued to increase the cost of ex-depot price. It has gone beyond expectation and beyond reason. And Nigerians have been suffering due to that”.