There are indications that fuel queues may return to retail outlets across the country anytime soon, following the Federal Government’s inability to settle marketers N660 billion debt.
Investigation revealed that the said N600 billion debt is being owed the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) by the Federal Government for imported fuel and interest differentials on bank loans sourced for petrol imports.
DAPPMA’s Executive Secretary, Mr . Olufemi Adewole ,said the development has forced members of his association to suspend further import of petrol, a situation which he said has led to long queues of tankers at the Apapa and Ibafon depots.
The NNPC, in its latest monthly report, said it remained the major importer of petroleum products, especially the PMS, in spite of liberalisation of petroleum products and government’s intervention meant to ease marketers’ access to foreign exchange.
In the past, marketers were importing 70 per cent of the products while the NNPC imported 30 per cent, as the supplier of last resort.
Most of the marketers have yet to resume importation of petrol and continued to rely on supply from the NNPC, which sells to them at N131 per litre.
Investigations by newsmen across depots in Apapa, indicated that majority of the marketers may have abandoned the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency(PPPRA) petrol pricing template, which had pegged the ex-depot price of a litre of petrol at N131-N133.28 price band
It was also revealed that only two marketers complied with the PPPRA ex-depot price band as at yesterday. Rahamaniyya charged N131.50 while Nipco Plc charged N133.28.
Others including Aiteo, Wosbab, Folawiyo and Heyden, sold at N137.50, while Zenon, Swift, Obat and Integrated sold at N137.
The highest ex-depot price of N138 was by Gulf Treasure, while Capital Oil, D Jones, Fatgbems,and MRS sold for N136.50 with T-Time selling for N135.
Given a further breakdown of the debt profile, Adewole said actual debt stood at N500 billion while interest rate differentials on loans is about N160 billion, bringing the total debt profile to N660 billion.
“The inability to pay or service the loans has not only stalled further importation of fuel but is threatening the operation of the affected banks and the nation’s financial industry at large.
“For now landing cost on petrol is over N145 per litre, due to weak exchange rate of the naira against the dollar, posing a major threat to marketers on the actual selling price price,’’he lamented.
According to him, most marketers now depend on NNPC imported petrol cargoes, adding that the ex-depot price depends on the price sold to them.
A marketer who spoke to newsmen under the condition of anonymity explained that subsidy returned to the market since last year, when the price of crude oil hit about $50.
He stated that at the moment government seems to be at a crossroad between increasing the price of fuel or continue to subsidise petrol secretly.
He said for now PPMC has been rationing petrol, which has further compounded the long queues being witnessed since last week, which may gradually snowball into scarcity.
‘’So, with marketers ex-depot price hitting N138,how would you expect them to sell at N145 when it eventually gets to the retail outlets, taking into cognizance other components of the distributors margin as approved by PPPRA, the price should be above N145 per litre,’’ he said