…Says petrol queues ‘ll disappear soon
..As queues return to FCT; petrol sells for N500/litre
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Obas Esiedesa
THE Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, said yesterday that there was no timeline for full deregulation of the oil sector in the country at present.
Kyari, who stated this in an interview with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also assured Nigerians that the queues at petrol stations in some parts of the country would soon fizzle out.
His reaction came against the backdrop of fresh petrol scacity in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Niger and Nasarawa states which led to the product selling for as much as N500 per litre in the black market.
Kyari said: “I have no update in hand now, this (deregulation) is beyond me, but we are engaging to make sure we have the right timeline.”
Responding to a question on his position on subsidy, having said few weeks ago that subsidy would set in no matter the situation and his recent statement that there would be no increase in petrol price in the month of May, he said that subsidy was a government policy matter.
“Subsidy is a policy matter, I am sure you are aware of this, there are engagements going on within government to get the best framework for having a fully deregulated PMS market.
“As this is going on, we are engaging all parties and all stakeholders as government and to make sure that at the end of the day, there is an exit that is beneficial to the ordinary man.
“That is why we know we will not be able to complete that in the month of May and and, therefore, we declared that there will be no increase in fuel price.”
Fielding question on the increasing market price of crude oil to about $67 per barrel and how it had impacted on NNPC finances, being the major importer of the product, he said there was no cause for alarm.
“ You know it works both ways. Once prices increase, your revenue also increases. So I don’t have any numbers around it, but I also know that your obligation to price of petroleum increases and your net revenue also increases. There is a balancing factor, I don’t think there is anything much to worry about,’’ he said.
On the fuel queues that surfaced in Abuja and adjoining states yesterday, the GMD explained that the queues were a result of the industrial action embarked upon by petroleum tanker drivers against their employers, the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, on compensation package which made them to suspend loading of petroleum products at the depots.
Kyari said the disagreement had been sorted out, following the intervention of NNPC, adding that normal loading operations had commenced from the depots.
He also said government had embarked on engagements with relevant stakeholders to get the best framework to have a fully deregulated Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, which he described as a government policy.
He said: “These queues will go away. It is because there was an industrial action by petroleum tanker drivers against their employers, the National Association of Road Transport Owners around their compensation package.
“Those issues were not resolved up till yesterday (Monday), until we intervened to ensure that there is an amicable settlement between the parties so that they will have peace and then normal loading operations will commence from the depots.
“As I speak to you at this moment, loading has commenced in all depots in the country, dispatches of trucks are ongoing in all the depots in the country and they have called off the strike for a period of one week to enable us intervene and find a solution. So there is really nothing fundamental that is happening now.’’
Meanwhile, motorists besieged petrol stations around the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, yesterday, despite assurances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, that there would be no hike in the ex-depot price of petrol.
Checks around the nation’s capital, Abuja and surrounding towns and states, showed that most independent petrol stations were shut, with only few major marketers opened to motorists.
Expectedly, motorists flocked around the few stations with the product, with queues stretching for long distances. The scene at the two petrol stations, Total and Conoil opposite the NNPC Towers at the city centre, was chaotic as motorists struggled to gain entrance into the stations.
Youths took the advantage of the situation to make brisk business as they hawked petrol in 10 litre kegs for N5,000, amounting to N500 per litre.
NNPC Group Managing Director Mallam Mele Kyari had on Monday said that there will be no increase the ex- depot price of Premium Motor Spirit, Petrol, in the month of May.