NNPC subsidiary links scarcity to withdrawal of toxic petrol
A subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has attributed the scarcity of petrol in parts of the country to the discovery of contaminated product.
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) in a statement, said methanol above Nigeria’s specification was discovered in a limited quantity of petrol in the supply chain.
The agency said the supplier had been identified.
NMDPRA explained that methanol is a regular additive in petrol and is usually blended in an acceptable quantity.
It said: “To ensure vehicular and equipment safety, the limited quantity of the impacted product has been isolated and withdrawn from the market, including the loaded trucks in transit.
“Our technical team in conjunction with NNPC Ltd and other industry stakeholders will continue to monitor and ensure quality petroleum products are adequately supplied and distributed nationwide.
“The source supplier has been identified and further commercial and appropriate actions shall be taken by the Authority and NNPC Ltd.
“NNPC Ltd and all oil marketing companies have been directed to sustain sufficient distribution of petrol in all retail outlets nationwide.
“Meanwhile, NNPC has intensified efforts at increasing the supply of petrol into the market in order to bridge any unforeseen supply gap.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited said on Monday that there was no need for panic buying.
Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Garba Deen Muhammad, said NNPC had sufficient PMS stock to meet the needs of Nigerians but did not mention the contamination.
“The public is, therefore, advised not to engage in panic buying of petrol; and to ignore all rumours that may suggest otherwise,” he said.
It was learnt an NNPC mother vessel laden with about 50, 000 metric tons of fuel (over 100 million litres) brought in the contaminated fuel.
According to the sources, Total was the first to discover the “off spec” supply.
Other marketers said to have received the contaminated consignment, though not supplied across all their stations, include Enyo, Northwest, Pinnacle and NIPCO.
A source said: “Total discovered the contaminated fuel because the company usually tests any product it received before releasing same into the market.
“So, when it got to Total and was tested, it was discovered to have been contaminated or ‘off spec’, hence it notified their neighbour Ardova that also received the consignment and that was how the bubble burst.”
The source said NNPC advised marketers that loaded from that particular cargo not to sell.
“Over 100 million litres of this batch of petrol is in circulation so it may take a awhile to recall it. If a station is not selling fuel presently, it is definitely affected.
“A lot of people have already complained that their vehicles have been damaged by the fuel already,” the source said.
The Nation learnt that the NNPC has promised to replace or refund marketers for the contaminated product.
For some marketers who take fuel on credit and pay after 45 days, NNPC will retrieve the bad supply and replace it.
For those that pay upfront, NNPC will refund them and take back their bad fuel.
For marketers used as throughputs, they will simply take back their fuel.
Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Garba Deen Muhammad, could not be reached for comments on the developments.
Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Clement Isong, confirmed the “contamination” of some of the products in the supply chain.
He told The Nation: “The current situation we are experiencing can be blamed largely on operational reasons. It is operational. There was some contamination in the products that entered the supply chain.
“It was identified, captured and quarantined or isolated and it is now being withdrawn from the system. So this is what has disrupted the supply chain flow.”
According to him, the cleanup process should be completed by this weekend and normalcy restored to the supply chain by Monday, “all things being equal.”
Isong, however, reiterated the need to diversify the importation of the product.
According to him, leaving the importation of fuel to one entity is dangerous and a very big risk the country is taking because the Nigerian market is too big for one supplier.
“We have also said that as a business principle, you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
“The Nigerian market is too big for you to risk having one supplier; the risk is too high.
“We shouldn’t have only one supplier of PMS and there will always be challenges if we have one supplier of petrol. One way or the other, something will always go wrong.