By Udeme Akpan
The increased smuggling of petrol across Nigeria’s borders has put pressure on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to meet the national daily demand, currently estimated at 72.72 million litres.
Investigation by Vanguard, weekend, showed that the smuggled product goes for between N300 and N500 per litre in Cameroun, Chad, Niger, and Benin.
This showed an illegal price incentive of 194 per cent, when compared to N162 and N170, which the smuggled product goes for domestically in Nigeria.
Consequently, many illegal operators have allegedly diverted the product to the borders, where it is smuggled to other countries or stored in the border communities for retailing in smaller units at higher prices.
For instance, it was gathered at the Idi Iroko, a neighbouring community with Benin, that one, two, three, and four litres go for as high as N250, N500, N750, and N1,000 respectively.
However, in an interview with Vanguard, weekend, the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, who is also the Managing Director, 11 Plc, said the huge price differential across the borders, provides adequate incentive for smugglers.
Specifically, he said: “The incentive is much. Even if you put the angels at the borders, the differential is too much.”
He added: “The only solution is to bridge the gap and remove the incentive. If not, it will continue.”
Nevertheless, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has sealed many stations nationwide for committing various offences, including under-dispensing and hoarding, but not much has been achieved in the battle against petroleum products diversion.
Mr Ayorinde Cardoso, Zonal Operations Controller, DPR, Lagos, who confirmed that two stations were sealed for under dispensing in Lagos, said: “The sealed stations were under dispensing and there are sanctions.
“They will have to, first of all, pay their sanctions and they will rectify their pumps to the acceptable standard. Then we will come back and re-evaluate the pumps before they can be allowed to reopen.”
Previously, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr Kennie Obateru, had said: “Our products are sold to bonafide marketers who have retail stations through which to sell to Nigerians.
“Unfortunately, we have products being smuggled to neighbouring countries because of the subsidised rate of petrol in Nigeria, thus strengthening the case for a realistic and market-determined price for petrol.”