Supply shortfall, cause of fuel scarcity – Kachikwu

Abuja, Dec. 7, 2017 (TNE) The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, says the major cause of the fuel scarcity being witnessed across the country is shortfall in supply of petroleum products.

Kachikwu, who stated this in a news briefing on Thursday in Abuja, however, said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is making efforts to ensure that queues at filling stations disappear in a couple of days.

“Presently, queues in Lagos have reduced. We know that Lagos, Abuja, Benue, Port Harcourt are among the worst-hit areas.

“Benue has been dealt with; Port Harcourt is quite moderated. Apart from these areas, other places in the country are probably liquid.

“The major problem is the gap in terms of volume, because NNPC is the only one importing the product to the country,” he said.

The minister assured that there is adequate storage facility for imported products, adding that emergency measures are in place to ensure that the products are made available during the Yuletide and post-January.

He said that four vessels, laden with petroleum products will “berth in a few days and a total of 20 cargoes are also expected with petroleum products’’.

Kachikwu said that the NNPC had, as at Wednesday, discharged products at its depots, adding that emergency supply, quick truck delivery and stricter monitoring were measures adopted to ensure that queues disappeared.

He added that the NNPC will use additional trucking to major cities using strategic reserves from Suleja, Minna, Gusau and Gombe.

This, he said, will help to service Abuja, Kano and Sokoto axis to feed the North-West and North-East.

“I have asked the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency to ensure stricter sanctions on any station that refuses to abide by the rules.

“They need to take a firm action to ensure that we get quick results,’’ he said.

Kachikwu further assured that the market will be flooded with more products to cushion effects of over-subscription through Kaduna refinery production, adding that Port Harcourt is expected to start producing 2.1 million litres of petrol per day.

He said that it is expected that with the adopted strategies, the queues would “slide down’’ in one week.

On long-term strategy, he said that ultimate result will come when the refineries resumed optimal production.

The minister said that work will commence effectively in the refineries in January.

Executive Secretary of the DPR, Mr Modecai Ladan, said that many sanctions awaited filling stations found compromising the dispensing process, warning that the stations will be shut down or charged N275 per litre.

He said that any station found hoarding products will either be sealed or its product auctioned or dispensed free-of-charge to consumers.

Ladan added that depending on the offence, defaulters may be shut down for six months or blacklisted.

A drive round Abuja metropolis and highways reveals that only a few filling stations are open for operation, serving long queues.

(TNE)

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