Vandalised pipelines: Marketers predict more fuel queues

By OpaOluwani Akintayo

Petrol queues lingered across Lagos and Ogun states on Wednesday, just as oil marketers predicted tougher days ahead in terms of product availability.

Several motorists were seen on queues at filling stations across the states with some oil sector operators saying the fuel scarcity might not go away any time soon.

In an update on the prevailing situation, the Chairman of Satellite Depot, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Lagos, Akin Akinrinade, told The PUNCH that the situation was “worsening”.

He said, “Nobody is saying anything to us yet. And as we speak, we are still not loading products here. In fact, the situation is worsening because the queues have continued. Even some of NNPCL Retail stations don’t also have products for sale. I believe it’s a stock issue, and the NMDPRA should be able to tell us what is really happening but, I know they won’t want to tell the truth.”

On his part, National Controller Operations, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, said there was no cause for alarm.

“Yes, there are still queues but NNPCL has assured us that there is no cause for alarm. So, let us rely on their statement for some days before we know what to do,” he said.

President, IPMAN, Elder Chinedu Okonkwo said he was in a meeting with NNPCL Retail.

“I just left NNPC Retail, and they assured us that they have plenty of products. Go to the depots, they are loading,” he said.

However, Okonkwo said, “I don’t know the quantity in stock but all depots are loading.”

A source at the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency who pleaded to speak on condition of anonymity, said there was more than enough stock in-country.

According to him, a total of 200,000 metric tonnes, equivalent to about 540 million litres of fuel, is currently at various depots in Lagos.

“We are taking concrete steps to close the gaps in product distribution, and I can tell you that there is no significant difference in what was trucked out last week and this week,” he said while declining to state what quantity was distributed last week.

“The depots are not dry. Everywhere is wet. There are two vessels discharging PMS at Apapa jetty, one at Ijegun, one at Coconut, Ibafo, and one at MRS, Tincan. Cumulatively, we are talking about 200, 000 metric tonnes of PMS, equivalent to about 540 million litres in various shore tanks in Lagos. So, we are taking time to close the supply gaps, and I can assure you that the queues would disappear just as they came,” he added.

Our correspondent  sighted queues at stations particularly those on the Oshodi/Ibadan Expressway.

Selling its petrol at N568 per litre, North West had the longest queue, with others such as Eterna N568/litre, NNPCL N568/litre, TotalEnergies N570/litre and Mobil N570/litre having shorter queues. The likes of Conoil, Enyo,  Oando at Berger had no products.

While some of TotalEnergies stations were seen dispensing, a branch of the station located on the Berger axis was seen under lock and key. A few others such as Worldoil, Fatgbems, Quest in Ogun State shut their outlets.

Akinrinade had on Tuesday said the depots had not loaded products in the last three weeks.

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