Nigerian Defense Chief of Staff Lucky Irabor warned on Tuesday that the nationwide gasoline shortage has become a “security problem” and that “no one is indispensable” in finding a solution to the problem.

Irabor, an army general, made this point at a meeting between oil regulators, security chiefs and oil traders.

“The challenge of fuel availability across the country has risen to a proportion that has become a concern for the defense and security of our country,” he said. “The government is not impeded and I must indicate that there are alternatives and no one is indispensable.”

At the event, facilitated by the Nigerian National Oil Company Limited (NNPCL), oil industry regulators engaged traders and security agencies to find ways to address the country’s persistent fuel crisis.

The engagement was attended by Mr. Irabor; Inspector General of Police Usman Baba and the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali.

Other attendees included the CEO of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed and the leadership of oil traders including the Nigerian Major Oil Traders Association (MOMAN).

Also in attendance at the meeting were the leaders of the Nigerian Petroleum Products and Deposits Traders Association (DAPPMAN), the Nigerian Independent Petroleum Traders Association (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Union of Oil and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG). , among others.

NNPCL Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mele Kyari. She said the fuel distribution crisis was of monumental proportions, that it had taken on a different dimension.

Mr. Kyari denounced the fact that Nigerian fuel was being smuggled to other countries and could only be done by people in the industry or those connected to or buying from the operators, even in sea containers.

“We have evidence that some of our clients are actually smuggling the ships to other countries, but we will get to the root of this and the appropriate agency will deal with it,” he said.

“We are not dealing with a supply problem, as we speak we have 831 million liters in the marina and in various warehouses we have 738 million liters that are documented on the platforms of industry regulators. We do not have an AGO problem for the movement of trucks.

“Every time the evacuation figure exceeds 60 million liters in the country, we have a problem. At the beginning of 2022, due to fuel contamination, the evacuation was reduced to 56 million, then we had a crisis, then we increased and we achieved normalcy.

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“In October 2022, when the floods happened, trucks couldn’t go to destinations particularly from south to north, so the evacuation exceeded 60 million and since then we have done everything we can to keep it above.

“Therefore, there is no shortage of fuel in the market, they may be at the wrong destination,” he said.

He said that there were changes in some dynamics, transport problems, logistics in the vessels and handling charges that reached an ex-depot price of Lagos – N172, Warri/Oghara – N183, Calabar – N185 and Port Harcourt – N180, but no one fulfilled this.

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“Instead, we had a countered presentation of N186, N192, N198, while some deposits range from N172 to N260 as an ex-deposit price. There is simply no way for independent merchants to buy and not sell at the prices seen across the country.

“This is the reality we are faced with and the end results are tails. if it is not managed at the depot level, it cannot be controlled at the station level,” he said.

Mr. Kyari also denounced the tariffs and levies imposed on the product that was not supposed to be what added to the general grief of Nigerians.

News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Kyari said attention was being paid to pricing issues to prevent Nigerians from being exploited, while a framework was being put in place to monitor that goods reach their royal destiny.

“With the volume that we are pushing into the market and the understanding that we are reaching with traders not to sell greedily, it will alleviate the situation. We regret the situation and apologize to the Nigerians,” Kyari said.

In his remarks, Irabor said that the involvement of the defense and security establishment shows that the resolution of crises in the oil and gas sector was paramount.

“I believe that the solution is within the framework that you are going to establish and if there is no solution, I ask that it has not reached a level in which the alternative is activated,” warned the CDS.

Also speaking, Mr. Baba described the situation as a matter of being patriotic and increasing the monitoring process of oil distribution, which poses a major problem.

“And if the distribution process has loopholes to exploit, there is an alternative to increase the level of monitoring and supervision and, in that sense, it is our role to help the NNPCL in the road monitoring process,” the IGP said.

In his remarks, Mr. Ahmed said the NMDPRA had sanctioned seven erroneous deposits two weeks ago to serve as a deterrent and was also mandated to suspend any license to operate without question.

He urged oil stakeholders, including IPMAN, to work with them to address the current constraint on prices and logistics. He frowned at speculation that the authority was not sanctioning deposits.

MOMAN President Adetunji Oyebanjo, who explained that the industry did not adequately invest in the necessary things along the value chain for distribution, described the situation as critical which had allowed for drastic practices.

DAPPMAN President Winifred Akpani, while pledging commitment, expressed dissatisfaction with the distribution and supply chain, adding that it was unnecessary to give products to exploiting traders and would not deliver them to stations.

Akpani also appealed to the federal government to deregulate the product.

However, IPMAN Chairman Chinedu Okoronkwo has urged the NNPCL to designate certain depots for its members to manage, control and load, in order to alleviate distribution problems.

PREMIUM TIMES has reported on gasoline shortages in Nigeria with many filling stations not selling and others selling well above the approved N165 price per litre.

In Lagos, Katsina and other states, gas stations sold the product at around N300 per litre.

The shortage has led to the rise of the black market (roadside dealers), who sell gasoline at prices as high as N500 per liter and N700 per liter in states like Ondo.

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