By Etuka Sunday
The Federal Government and the Oil Marketers would meet to fashion out ways of sustaining petroleum products supply in the country ahead of the eventual attainment of local refining capacity.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Board Chairman, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, gave the hint in a presentation to the Joint Senate and House Committees on Petroleum Downstream in Abuja.
Dr. Kachikwu explained that it was imperative to explore options which would open up the market and allow oil marketers to import petroleum products and complement the ongoing efforts by the NNPC to sustain the sanitization of the products supply and distribution matrix.
The Minister listed some of the measures that may paved the way to marketers’ participation in the fuel import regime to include: flexible tax-wave window to accommodate extraneous cost elements, an exchange rate modulation programme and price plurality regime which could allow the Marketers sell at different a price from the NNPC’s.
The Minister said the 18-months emergency window would boosted with a quick revamp and effective use of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure, saying pipeline remains the most reliable means of transporting petroleum products.
He however stated that ultimately what the country needed is to have its refineries working, noting that it makes better business sense to add value to crude oil than sell the commodity raw.
Also in his presentation before the Joint NASS Committee on the Fuel Situation, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the corporation had made arrangements to import additional Cargoes of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) between January and March 2018, with a view to keeping the Country wet, in addition to ensuring a beef-up of the nation’s strategic reserves.
NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu in a statement quoted the NNPC GMD to have explained that the expected cargoes would also help to bridge the identified leakages in the system.
The additional volumes is premised on the prevailing NNPC one-Cargo-per day fuel import arrangement designed to guarantee the daily discharge of over 40 million litres of petrol.
As part of measures to sustain the current fuel supply situation, Dr Baru said in addition to the increased volume of products importation, the corporation is also working in consultation with other stakeholders to increase the throughput arrangement with members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), subject, however, to acceptable guidelines to be reached with the group.
Chairman of the Joint Senate and House Committees on Petroleum, Downstream, Senator Kabiru Marafa, while opening the session, emphasized the need to get to the roots of the hiccups that rocked the supply and distribution recently.
He enjoined the invited stakeholders to limit their deliberations to the challenges, which he said put a lot of strains on the ordinary people in the country while it lasted.