Independent petroleum marketers have been forced to relinquish their initial foray into petrol importation due to the dual challenges of restricted access to foreign exchange (forex) and stringent price controls.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has now emerged as the solitary importer and primary source of petrol across the nation.
The developments in Nigeria’s petrol importation landscape underscore the profound impact of forex challenges and pricing regulations, ultimately leading to the resurgence of NNPCL as the primary petrol importer, much to the chagrin of independent marketers.
Expressing their frustration, members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) voiced their concerns yesterday, asserting that the forex predicament and pricing disparities were obstructing their ability to fully engage in the downstream oil industry, contradicting the envisioned principles of complete deregulation.
In a bold move following the removal of petrol subsidies and the government’s transition to a free-market economy for the downstream sector, three prominent marketers initiated private petrol imports in July. However, their aspirations were short-lived.
Abubakar Maigandi, the National Vice President of IPMAN, laid bare the obstacles faced by these marketers. He attributed their withdrawal from the petrol importation business to the arduous challenge of securing foreign exchange through banks.
Maigandi alleged that NNPCL depots were unwilling to sell petrol to independent marketers, further exacerbating the predicament. He observed a notable decline in the rate at which marketers could obtain the product from these depots.
In his own words, Maigandi stated, “I don’t know about major marketers not having petrol in their depots. The only thing I know is that the rate of loading has reduced. The way we used to load it is now reduced. From the loading point, NNPCL refused to give us allocation. They have reduced the way they had been allocated to marketers.”
He continued, “Most of the marketers are not getting the foreign exchange from the banks. So everybody relies on the product that NNPCL imports and shares with the marketers.”
Maigandi also shed light on the prevailing ex-depot prices, revealing disparities in pricing. He noted that, aside from NNPCL depots, the price had seen an increase. NIPCO, in particular, was selling petrol at N585 per litre instead of the previously established N557.
“NNPCL is still selling at the same N567 rate in Lagos but they will not allow marketers to buy. NNPCL has left the price unchanged at N567 per litre,” Maigandi emphasized.
Notably, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) Corporate Communications’ General Manager, Mr. Kimchi Apollo, remained unresponsive to requests for comments on the prevailing situation.
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