NNPC’s monopoly, parlous refineries behind kerosene scarcity, says Rep

INDICATIONS have emerged that the monopoly of importation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the poor state of Nigerian refineries are the major factors responsible for scarcity of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) in the country.

The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Dakuku Peterside, who made this known at a seminar organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos, recently, said government has subsidised kerosene ‘’substaintally’’, even as the product has never been available for the masses to enjoy.

According to him, kerosene may continue to scarce due to some critical factors that have eaten deep into the fabrics of the nation, such as NNPC’S import monopoly, non-functional refineries, vandalism of crude pipelines, corruption and the multi-purpose usage of kerosene.

He said kerosene is equally useful for other purposes such as in road construction; aviation fuel blending, cleaning agents; paint industries, anti-oxidant; solvent to adulterated crude oil for fuel, in addition to diversion to neighboring countries and inefficiencies and fraud in the distribution network, among others.

This multipurpose profile of the commodity, according to Peterside, has necessitated diversion of the product to other uses, because of huge turnover and excess profit.

Kerosene is expected to be sold for N40.90k per liter, but it is presenting sold between N110 and N150 per liter, depending on the location. In fact the product is relative scarce at the filling stations, thereby leaving Nigerians to other alternative sources, such as Firewood, Charcoal, sawdust, electric and gas.

Apparently irked by the situation, Peterside clamoured for switch to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), which he said is clean energy that reduces environmental cost and degradation.

He therefore enjoined government at all levels to promote the usage of LPG as cooking gas, proving that the subsidy spent of kerosene over the years has not helped matters.

He quoted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to have said it supplied about 2.92 billion liters of kerosene to the distribution Nigerian market from September 2012 to August 2013, but the product was not available in the market.

“Because NNPC has the monopoly of importing kerosene, what we are suffering today is likely to continue.

“PMS otherwise known as petrol at a time was only imported by one person but it was liberalised today. Because there are many persons importing petrol, there may be gains but because there are five to six of us are going to the market we are not likely to come back with the same story.

“We are all business men who want to outsmart each other but in the case where NNPC is the sole importer of kerosene, the masses are paying for it.

“Because independent marketers, major marketers and the rest are in charge of distribution and this is where the mother of all corruption, the mother of all fraud, the mother of everything bad begins and ends.

“Major marketers are Nigerians, Independent marketers are Nigerians but they maximise this opportunity and make profit for themselves at the expense of the masses.

“It is on record that, NNPC has supplied about 2.92 billion litres of kerosene to the Nigeria market from September 2012 to August 2013 with an average import of 11 million litres per day.’’

“I don’t know how many of us here goes to the gas station to get kerosene to buy at N50, then the implication of this 11 million litres we import daily develop wings and fly out of our country.

“Is it magic? My answer is No! My guess is as good as yours, somebody is playing games with us, somebody is playing games with out pocket.

“That is one of the reasons they subsidise kerosene own by all of us. It is not own by anybody or individual called government, it is own by all of us. And so we have the right to ask the right questions; what is happening?

“As long as our refineries are not working, people will continue to benefit from the subsidy of kerosene. We have done several turn around maintenance has been carried out on our refineries and yet they are not working and we will still do more turn around.

“Until we relieve ourselves from that greed to make money at the expense of Nigeria people we won’t move forward,” he said.

By Sulaimon Salau, November 6, 2013