Hopes of speedy resolution to the current fuel scarcity was yesterday dashed as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed that the situation will linger for the next two months. Kachikwu said it was only by magic that filling stations were still dispensing fuel to Nigerians.
Kachikwu who is also the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), stated this while responding to questions from State House Correspondents after he led a team of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to meet President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
The Minister blamed lack of reserves for the fuel scarcity, saying plans were on ground to reserve all refined products from Nigeria’s refineries, while NNPC will go back to importing only the capacity it can while the rest would be left to the oil majors as part of strategies to ease queues at filling stations.
Kachikwu was merely restating the position of stakeholders in the petroleum downstream sector, who only last week painted a grim picture of fuel supply situation in the country.
The stakeholders had at a ‘Business Clinic’ organised by downstream oil and gas firms and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), warned that Nigeria’s lingering fuel supply crisis may persist till the third quarter of 2016.
Both operators and some regulators of the industry who spoke at the event gave a very worrisome outlook for the industry. They maintained that unless the Federal Government summoned the courage to deregulate the downstream petroleum industry, an end to fuel shortages and the attendant high cost across the various states of the country, was nowhere near in sight.
Managing Director/CEO of Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, Mr. Tunji Oyebanji, whose firm imports and also distributes petroleum products in the country, said Nigerians should not expect the current fuel crisis to ease until the last quarter of the year.
“It is going to be a tough year for Nigeria’s downstream industry. Fuel supply challenges will not go away,” said Oyebanji in a presentation that dwelt on the business outlook for the petroleum industry in 2016. (Daily Sun)