The ongoing shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) in parts of Lagos and South-Western states is expected to persist until the end of September. The situation is attributed to the shutdown of the System 2B pipeline, which supplies a significant amount of fuel to the region.
This disruption is caused by the activities of vandals who have damaged the pipeline.
The System 2B pipeline, located in front of Good Luck Estate at Idimu, Alimosho Local Council Development Area of Lagos, is anticipated to be back in operation by the end of September. Oil marketers have pointed out that pipeline vandalism has led to a decrease in the flow of PMS in Lagos and neighboring states.
Akin Akinrinade, the Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Satellite Depot, expressed concern about the impact of the pipeline shutdown on fuel supply. He mentioned that satellite depots have been unable to load any products for the past three weeks due to the disruption.
Garba-Deen Muhammad, the Chief Corporate Communications Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), confirmed that the vandalized pipeline is under repair by the NNPCL. He stated that the pipeline should be restored and operational by the end of September. However, until the pipeline is back in operation, the fuel supply issues in the affected areas are likely to persist.
The situation highlights the challenges faced in maintaining a consistent fuel supply due to infrastructure vulnerabilities and criminal activities such as pipeline vandalism.
Commenting on the development the President, of Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, said there was already a drop in the supply of petrol nationwide.
He also stated that the foreign exchange crisis in Nigeria had discouraged more marketers from implementing their PMS importation plans.
“There’s already short supply of products and the reasons are not far-fetched. In the beginning of the subsidy regime most of our marketers decided to pull resources and import.
“They were to import about 25,000 metric tonnes each. But somewhere along the line they could not meet their cash calls because dollar jumped from the official rate of about N450 to over N700.
“So it was no longer accessible and marketers needed to depend on the parallel market for it, even when the government promised to create opportunities in the I&E window. So clearly, the issues at stake are very simple. Supply is not there as before and it is a problem.”
Asked whether this means the NNPCL, which prides itself as the supplier of last resort, was not importing enough products, Gillis-Harry replied, “Well, as it is today, we cannot say they are not importing. But we need to see results. If there are enough imports, we need to see the result of the imports.”
The National Controller Operations, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, had told The PUNCH earlier that there was no cause for alarm with respect to product availability.
“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,” Osatuyi had stated on Wednesday.
Also, the President, IPMAN, Chinedu Okonkwo had said he had a meeting with NNPCL Retail on Wednesday on the concerns raised by marketers.
“I just left NNPC Retail, and they assured us that they have plenty of products. Go to the depots, they are loading,” he had told The PUNCH on Wednesday
The PUNCH had also reported on Thursday that 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 the official, 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,” the source stated.
Meanwhile, when told on Thursday that other states outside the South-West had no queues and whether they would experience such in due course, the PETROAN president explained why this was so.
He said, “First of all, don’t forget that buyers are also having issues with their pockets. So vehicles are not buying as much petroleum products as they used to buy.
“Right now there are different modalities that Nigerians are managing to get through. You have families that are dropping several cars in their fleets, you have neighbours that are joining resources, trying to pass through the same area where they can get closer enough to their offices and business places.
“So with that kind of situation in several parts of Nigeria there will be not so much pressure on PMS. That is why it has not being pronounced as such outside Lagos.
“But it is pronounced this much in Lagos because the state is an entire city that has over 15 million residents and every day, whether subsidy or no subsidy, people must move in Lagos. So that is the reason.”
Gillis-Harry, however, stated that if the low supply situation should persist for long, the queues would spread to other regions of the country.