The Minister of Petroleum Resources (State), Mr Timipre Sylva has explained the recent increase in the price of petrol, admitting that the deregulation of the petroleum subsector will be difficult for a while but pay off on the long run.
Mr Sylva said this on Thursday during a briefing in Abuja and noted that the government no longer controls the price of the product.
According to him, the Nigerian government spends over a trillion naira yearly as subsidy payment, explaining that the high cost forced the government to allow market forces to determine the prices of the product.
The former Bayelsa Governor noted that the current price of petrol is a reflection of the global crude oil price.
The Federal Government has increased the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol from N140.80 to N143.80 per litre.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announced the increment in a statement issued by its Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu on Wednesday.
“After a review of the prevailing market fundamentals in the month of June and considering marketers’ realistic operating costs, as much as practicable, we wish to advise a new PMS pump price band of N140.80 – N143.80 per litre for the month of July 2020,” the statement read.
“All marketers are advised to operate within the indicative prices as advised by the PPPRA.”
In April, the Federal Government had announced a reduction of the petrol pump to N123.50 per litre.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that its retail stations will begin to sell fuel at the adjusted price of N125 per litre beginning from March 19, 2020.
This is in line with the Federal Government’s directive ordering the NNPC to adjust the price of fuel to reflect global market realities.
Speaking on the adjustment and new directives to its retail stations, the Corporation’s Group Managing Director, Mr Mele Kyari, said the NNPC has reviewed its Ex-coastal, Ex-depot and NNPC retail pump prices.
According to his statement on Wednesday, Mr Kyari said NNPC’s Ex-coastal price for PMS has been reviewed downwards from N117.6/litre to N99.44/litre while Ex-Depot price is now been reduced from N133.28/litre to N113.28/litre.
Mr Kyari stressed that despite the obvious implications of this immediate adjustment to the Corporation, the NNPC is delighted to effect the massive reduction of N20/litre for the benefit of all Nigerians.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured Nigerians that it has no plan to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by the NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, the Corporation explained that the recent increase in bridging allowance to transporters from 6.20 Naira to 7.20 Naira per litre will not affect the prevailing petrol price of 145 Naira per litre.
According to the statement, the clarification was made in Abuja by the NNPC Chief Operating Officer (COO) in charge of Downstream Operations, Mr Henry Ikem Obih.
“Rebalancing Of The Margins”
Mr Obih said there was no plan by government or any of its agencies to review the pump price of petrol above 145 Naira per litre, adding that the rise in the bridging cost was achieved after an adjustment was made in the “lightering expenses” from Four Naira to Three Naira per litre, and the difference transferred to compensate for the cost of bridging within the same template.
The bridging allowance refers to the cost element built into the products pricing template to ensure a uniform price of petrol across the country, while lightering expenses involve charges for moving products to depot area from mother vessels by light vessels, due to the inability of the former to berth in shallow water depth.
“What happened, in simple language, is a rebalancing of the margins allowed and approved for stakeholders. So what the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) did was to take One Naira from lightering expenses and add same to the bridging allowance, that is how we arrived at 7.20 Naira. Therefore, PMS remains at the ceiling of 145 Naira per litre, he said.
“No Risk Of Shortage”
On the availability of product supply, the COO said as at Wednesday, Nigeria has 1.3 billion litres of petrol which translates to an inventory of 36 days.
“What this means is that even if we stop importation or refining of petrol right now, we have enough products in the country to provide for the needs of every Nigerian for a period of 36 days,” he said.
Obih noted that the supply availability was bolstered with the production of petrol from the three refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.
“There is absolutely no risk of shortage in supply as we also continue to import, to support the production from the refineries. We have informed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to enforce the prevailing 145 Naira per litre price regime, and to also ensure that every service station that has fuel is selling to the public,” he said.
The COO reiterated the readiness of the NNPC management under the leadership of its Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, to sustain the existing cordial relationship between the Corporation and the leadership of the downstream industry unions and other stakeholders.
He said the DPR, which is the regulatory arm of the industry, had been alerted to sanction fuel station owners who engage in hoarding, or charge consumers in excess of the approved pump price of petrol.
Dr. Baru had announced the review of the bridging allowance on Monday at a mediation meeting between the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO),
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Thursday said it has intensified its surveillance in Niger State, northern Nigeria.
In spite of the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) known as petrol by the Federal Government, the DPR has ensured that marketers adhered strictly with the new pump price of 145 Naira per litre in the state.
The Controller of DPR in Niger State, Engineer Abdullahi Jankara, disclosed this to reporters after a surveillance inspection tour in Minna, the state’s capital.
He said the agency would not relent in its efforts to ensure that the marketers obey the order, in times of price and standard distribution of the product to the public.
“We have seen normal situation since the increase in the price of PMS, especially in Minna due to the availability of the product,” he said.
Jankara assured that cheating in times of delivery would not be accepted just as the DPR would watch out for sharp practices by the petroleum marketers, who he said were fond of perpetuating such illegal acts in the state.
“Although it is not yet over because of the feelers we are getting from the hinterland on the exact situation, on a general note we have 80% compliance as things will be in total control,” he added.
The DPR boss vowed to continually beef up surveillance team into the hinterland to replicate what is happening in the townships.
He said that many filling stations have complied with with the new price while erring stations have been compelled to revert to the official price.
The countdown to the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) strike has begun, as the leadership of the union are insisting that come Wednesday, all the industrial unions will force their colleagues to down tools.
Speaking on Sunday, the Vice President of the NLC, Mr Amechi Asugwuni, warned that it was ready to commence the strike unless the federal government reverses the pump price of petrol to N86.50k.
When asked if they have established talks with the government, he replied; “Not at all, there is no change of gear, our strike will begin on Wednesday.”
However, the position of the NLC is at variance with that of PENGASSAN and NUPENG, who claim that government consulted all the labour unions before putting the cap of 145 Naira per litre.
The two unions may not support Wednesday’s proposed strike as they have accused the NLC of making a U-turn.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, last Wednesday, addressed the media at the Presidential Villa where he announced the new pump price regime and also an opening of importation to independent marketers and any Nigerian entity.
The Nigerian government has expressed optimism that the new price band would lead to improved supply and competition expected to eventually drive down pump prices, as experienced with diesel.
Nigerians in the southwest have expressed displeasure with the new price band of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol.
Residents in Osogbo, Osun State’s capital woke up on Thursday morning to a protest by operators of commercial mini buses popularly known as ‘Korope’, in response to the 145 Naira per litre price band of petrol announced by the Federal Government.
The operators between the hours of 8:00AM and 12 noon, parked their buses along the roads in the town to protest the new pump price, leaving people going to their offices and businesses stranded.
They also used the medium to create awareness for the increase in transport fares from the range of 30 and 50 Naira to 50 and 80 Naira, depending on the distance.
Some of the commercial operators, Omoloye Oladapo and Tajudeen Olayemi, stressed that buying petrol at the rate of 145 Naira would definitely lead to increase in transportation fare.
A resident of Osogbo, Abdulkareem Olatunji, described the decision of the commercial drivers to down tool for some hours as unfair to the people, saying that it has affected their daily activities.
Residents of Ibadan in Oyo State are also crying out to the Federal Government to critically examine its decision on the fuel price increase, to alleviate the suffering of the masses.
Going round the Ibadan metropolis, Channels Television crew found few petrol service stations selling at the new price band of 145 Naira per litre while majority were not selling.
Some of the motorists said that they had been on queue as early as 5:00AM in some filling stations without a hope of getting fuel.
Outrage and frustration were some of the emotions expressed by residents who spoke to Channels Television on the new price of petrol.
The senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani, has joined other Nigerians to condemn Wednesday’s increase in the pump price of petrol from N86.50k per litre to N145 per litre.
In a statement he issued on Thursday, Senator Sani described the decision by the NNPC to increase the pump price as insensitive and provocative.
“Its most unfortunate that at a time when poor Nigerians are facing enormous economic hardships and are being asked to be more patient, all the NNPC could do is to add to their suffering.
“It is utterly irrational and illogical to further impoverish the people in order to achieve liberal self-serving liberal economic aspirations.
“It is all evidenced that capitalist forces are holding the Federal Government hostage and are blackmailing it to implement its inimical version of economic reforms,” Senator Sani said.
He went further to say that it makes no sense if everyone must perish in order to revamp the economy, adding that economic reforms are necessary but must be done with a human face and human heart if it is made in the interest of human beings.
While describing the increase in pump price of petrol as a social provocation, Senator Sani called on President Muhammadu Buhari to weigh in on the NNPC to rescind the decision.
He also warned the Federal Government not to take the patience, sacrifice and goodwill of Nigerians for granted.
Residents of Kaduna State have kicked against the increase in pump price of petrol from N86.50k per litre to N145 per litre by the Federal Government.
Some of them interviewed by Channels Television correspondent in the state capital, described the increase as the height of insensitivity to the plight of ordinary citizens.
While describing the new price regime as ill-timed, considering the present harsh economic situation in the country, the residents called on the federal government to reverse the increment.
Already, major and independent petroleum marketers in the state capital have adjusted their pumps to the new price immediately the news broke out on Wednesday, although many of them had old stock in their tanks.
The marketers declined to speak to us on camera, but one of them insisted that he bought the product at a higher price and could not sell at the former price.
At Zeepet petrol station along Constitution road, the pumps had already been adjusted from N86.50k to N145 per litre of petrol, and there were still long queues. The situation was the same at the MRS station along Kachia road, also in the state capital.
One of the motorists who is a civil servant lamented that the new price, if not reversed or adjusted, will affect his economic fortunes.
The Minister stressed that no marketer has been told the amount to sell its product, but that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be hoping to sell at 135 Naira per litre.
“As we go into the hinterlands, NNPC stations will be hoping to head towards more of 135 Naira than the 145 Naira band.
“How did we come to the price of 145? It’s a simple conversion of using foreign exchange at 285. That 285 is from nowhere, it is basically the secondary source that people buy FX from versus the 320 which is black market.
“If you convert it and throw it in you will get about 141, 142 or 143. So there isn’t much of palliative elements left there for you to use. It is simply, ‘go out, find your product, your cost is covered, there is an opportunity for your efficiency to make money, come and deliver’.
“It is not the lifting of petroleum pricing that should be the basis in which government provides a palliative, government has a responsibility to provide social palliatives in an ordinary course of running the day to day administration of a government and they are doing that.
“If you look at 2016 budget, there are loads of such palliatives,” he said.
Full or Partial Deregulation
The Minister would not state if the latest move by the Nigerian government is full or partial deregulation. He said, “I try not to get into the semantics of deregulation or no deregulation but the reality is that we are liberalizing, we are freeing up the economy, and we are freeing up the business.
“The ultimate of what we are headed for is that everybody should be able to do the business, bring in the product.
“I hear people want to have an argument about whether it is full deregulation or partial deregulation but at the end of the day, the objective is what was achieved with diesel or AGO, which is that the government will have less control over the business and individuals will be free to compete so that Nigerians will have the advantage of that competition.
In response to questions regarding why the price of petrol has been capped when same has not been done for the price of diesel, Mr Kachikwu indicated that this could be a temporary situation.
“Because of the sensitivity of PMS, you want to be sure that at the initial stage there are some guidelines in terms of how you do your pricing but ultimately, obviously we will let the market dynamics take place,” he said.
He added, “What we have done is an upper cap, we have not told anyone what price to sell. We expect that the efficiencies will force people to determine their prices,” stressing that the price band of 135 to 145 Naira are “guideline prices”.
“It’s going to depend on how much you find your FX for, how efficient you are, how invested you are through the whole entire chain of the business because if you are invested in the tankage, importation, distribution and the logistics, you have greater efficiency and those will impact your prices.”
The Minister noted that the decision was made with the input of major players in the sector, stressing that this is a “transition period” towards achieving sufficient availability of the product.
Nigerians have also expressed fears that the 145 Naira price cap might give marketers the liberty to sell for far above 200 Naira considering the similar high prices it has been sold since fuel scarcity started across the country.
But the Minister assured Nigerians that the new measure would address this.
“NNPC provided all these products highly subsidized and people took advantage of it, went out and made their own profit margins. But now these individuals are going to start bringing in their own products.
“Even when NNPC sells its own product, it will sell at those prices, so there wouldn’t be opportunity for those short term arbitrages unless those benefits and pricing come from your own skill set, experience and efficiency,” he said.
In a statement by the union after a new price band of 145 Naira per litre for Premium Motor Spirit was announced by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the labour union said the increase was the least one had expected at this point in time.