FACTS have emerged on why  marketers want a hike in the petrol’s price.

The Nation learnt that the reason  marketers are reluctant to sell at N145 per litre is because of artificial scarcity; most private depots are empty.

The few that have are warehousing the product for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which pay a commission for the service to the depot owners.

Under this arrangement, the NNPC authorises the truck to load at such depots. However, due to the large number of trucks waiting to load, this causes scarcity. Such depots take advantage of the high demand to hike the price.

The regulated ex-depot price by  NNPC, the sole fuel importer, is N133.28 per litre, but the depots sell at between  N158 and N162.

Further investigation revealed that such depot operators connive with some NNPC officials to sell over the approved ex-depot price of N133.28 to make quick cash. Trucks from the East and other parts of the country that are far from the Lagos ports – the main source of fuel supply – make higher offer to the depots because petrol sells at such places at over N145 per litre. In some states, petrol sells for N180 and N200.

Some marketers confirm that  some NNPC officials connive with private depot owners to divert petrol meant for Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), an arm of NNPC, to private depots, pay throughput charges, to sell above ex-depot prices.

The Nation’s investigation revealed that most of the NNPC depots are not working, while those that are functional operate at very sub-optimal levels, putting excess pressure on NNPC and private depots in Lagos and other parts of southwest as well as contribute to gridlock in Apapa.

The Southwest Zone of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN) Chairman, Alhaji Debo Ahmed, told The Nation that he could only speak on the state of NNPC depots in the zone. According to him, there are five NNPC depots in the southwest.

He said: “I can only talk about southwest, which is my constituency. In southwest, we have five depots – Ilorin, Ibadan, Ore, Ejigbo and Sagamu and their petrol storage capacities, I will tell you.

“Of these five depots, the one in Ibadan is working, after almost three years of being out of operation. It started working last October. In Ejigbo, only two smaller tanks are working. They have a million litres capacity each, which can only load 33 or 66 trucks. The two that are not working have five million capacity each, which is 5000metric tons. At Mosimi (Sagamu), the tanks are working. It is the largest depot in the southwest and pumps products to all parts of the region and others. It loads Port Harcourt, Kano and other states.

Ore has not been working for five years because of pipeline vandalism. Ilorin also has not been working for four years due also to pipeline vandalism. Ore depot is not big with its 10-million litre capacity. Ilorin has about 10 million litres. Of the five depots, three are working.

The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, told The Nation that the corporation has 21-23 depots on land and two marine. He said the latter were working while some of the land depots were not – no thanks to pipeline vandalism.

Ughamadu said Calabar, Warri, Port Harcourt, Benin, Mosimi, Ibadan, Ejigbo and Kano depots were  working, adding that Enugu, Aba and other depots would soon be in operation.

According to him, the NNPC management is working relentlessly to bring the entire depots on stream to make fuel available across the nation.

On the over-pricing of ex-depot price of petrol, Ughamadu said the NNPC has put measures in place to effectively enforce the N133.28 ex-depot price.

Quoting the PPMC Managing Director, Umar Ajiya, Ughamadu said the measure became necessary to resolve the price differentials between some of its stakeholders.

Ajiya said the throughput facilities, along with some of its coastal depots, woukd go a long way in ensuring that marketers access petrol at the approved government price.

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