As epileptic power forces Nigerians to stampede for fuel
By Gbenga Olubumi
Many petrol stations managers told EnergyDay in confidence that signs of looming scarcity of premium motor spirit commonly called petrol has been building up gradually for one week, across Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State yesterday, many petrol stations did not dispense while quite a sizable number remained shut.
There was slight improvement Tuesday morning.
Unless the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited Intervened urgently, in the next couple of days scarcity and long queues may return with attendant hardships on the people already hobbled by increasing hardships and high cost of living.
Although, NNPC has said there was no cause for alarm as there is enough petrol, adding that the cause of the long queues in some filling stations in Lagos State, and parts of the country was as a result of “tightness” and what it called a “brief distribution issue”.
EnergyDay on Monday observed that there were long queues in many filling stations in Lagos , leading many residents to consider fueling more to power their generator after been embattled with the recent blackout witnessed across the country. Others were anchored on the believe that another round of fresh fuel scarcity may have berthed
The scarcity was especially noticed in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, most filling stations, including NNPCL retail outlets, were not open to motorists. Same was obseved among independent and major marketers -owned filling stations across these cities, while the few that actually opened to the public had a slew of long queues of vehicles at their pumps .
It was also noticed that some of the stations dispensing petrol were only using one pump, a development that deepened the queues. None of the NNPCL stations in Ikeja axis including the three on Ogunnusi road between Omole roundabout and Ojodu-Berger and BOVAS did open to motorists, this trend was also observed in NNPCL stations along Alausa secretariat road.
There were two NNPCL filing stations in Akute, Ogun State, o only one was opened to motorists although it was yet to dispense petrol to the long queue as at 3pm yesterday when EnergyDay visited the station.
Competent sources told this medium that NNPCL was being economical with the truth, as they said supply pressure was the reason behind this development.
According to the sources, because the NNPCL gives the most friendly ex depot price of the product, most, if not all marketers, now depend of the firm for petrol supply.
“The truth is that supply pressure is responsible for what happened yesterday and early this morning. You know, NNPCL sells petrol at about N550 per litre ex depot price, while other private depots sell at N620 per litre. So it’s only logical and makes business sense for other dealers to buy from NNPCL instead of going to where they sell for much more higher price, I mean from private depots because of the price differential.
Confirming the situation, the National President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Abubakar Maiganda, in a telephone chat with this reporter, explained loading disruption at the NNPCL depots across the country has been a major challenge in the past two weeks for his members.
But analysts who spoke to EnergyDay say the development is another sigh of NNPC’s incompetence, which is at the heart of much of the fuel crises in the country.
Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, head of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Osun State University, and an oil watcher simply said ” A leopard can not change its spot, even if it’s called another name. The national oil company has been incompetent over the years, it has no mechanism to cope with pressure or emergency.
This position was also taken by a petrol station manager around Ikeja who confided in EnergyDay that ” I’m reliably informed that there was too much pressure on NNPC more than it could cope with, and that’s the reason for this development.”
NNPCL’s spokesperson, F’ẹmi Soleye was quoted as saying “We don’t have any supply issue; we have products available. The tightness you are seeing is that there are price differentials and this is not peculiar to us alone; it happens all over the world. So folks go to wherever they can get it cheaper. So we have products available and there are no issues at all “
Yesterday’s scarcity according to some analysts who spoke with EnergyDay must have cost some businesses millions of Naira, as a lot of manhour was lost in queues, period that should have been utilized productively.
Only recently, the World Bank said the epileptic power supply costs businesses in Nigeria about $29 billion yearly.
According to the bank, an average Nigerian consumes four times less energy than their counterparts in a typical lower middle-income country.
It’s conclusion was drawn from its Power Sector Recovery Programme factsheet.presented during the World Bank’s virtual meeting with journalists.
The bank’s practice manager, West and Central Africa Energy, Ashish Khanna, in his presentation said, “Businesses in Nigeria lose about $29 billion annually because of unreliable electricity. Nigerian utilities get paid for only a half of the electricity they receive.”
According to him, for every N10 worth of electricity received by distribution companies, about N2.60 is lost in poor distribution infrastructure and through power theft and another N3.40 is not being paid for by customers.