Fuel Scarcity; How Kyari and His Management Team Overcame Criticism

By Adewole Kehinde.

“When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”

Following the discovery of Methanol-blended petrol, otherwise known as Off Spec fuel, by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and the withdrawal of the commodity from the markets across the country, many Nigerians called for the entire sack of the NNPC and NMDPRA management.

For the mischief-makers or those who are all-out to rubbish the enviable achievements of the duo of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Minister of Petroleum and the duo of the Minister of State, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, they have forgotten that it was the NNPC that discovered the off-spec fuel in the first instance and announced a massive withdrawal of the product nationwide. This was in a bid to ascertain the levels of methanol and determine the appropriate actions to mitigate the issues arising.

Consequently, Kyari launched a major investigation to unravel the causes of the unsafe quantity of methanol in the petrol imported into the country. In a swift reaction on Wednesday night, Kyari briefed the press and revealed the companies that imported the four petrol cargoes as MRS, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, Oando, and Duke Oil, and ordered the holding back of all the affected products in transit (both truck and marine). Shedding light on the consignments, Kyari said petrol brought into Nigeria usually does not include the test for the level of methanol content as this was not a typical blend in Nigeria’s gasoline supplies. He also maintained that cargoes’ quality certificates, issued at the loading port in Belgium, by AmSpec Belgium, indicated that the product complied with Nigerian specifications without indicating the percentage levels of methanol. “NNPC quality inspectors, including GMO, SGS, GeoChem and G&G conducted tests before discharge, which showed that the cargo also met the country’s standards, “the NNPC boss was quoted as saying.”

To ameliorate the situation, the NNPC asked oil trading firms to embark on an emergency supply of petrol to replace cargoes that were rejected because of their poor quality. He said: “In order to prevent the distribution of the petrol, we have ordered the quarantine of all un-evacuated volumes and the holding back of all the affected products in transit (both truck and marine). All defaulting suppliers have been put on notice for remedial actions, and NNPC will work with the authorities to take further necessary actions in line with existing regulations. NNPC wishes to reassure Nigerians that we are currently sourcing additional cargoes to ensure product sufficiency. “

As a timely intervention and remediation, NNPC received delivery of 300 million litres of petrol to close the supply gap created in the country by the withdrawal of the off-spec petrol through six vessels ordered by the company.

In addition, a 9,000-metric-tonne vessel being discharged at Apapa Port, Lagos, to major marketers, including OVH, TotalEnergies, 11 Plc, Conoil, and Ardova Plc, will also help rid the filling stations of queues.

Known for his transparency and accountability, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, Mal Mele Kyari, released details of how it distributed a total of 387.59 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, from February 14 to February 20, 2022, to bridge the gap.

According to NNPC, the petrol, distributed to Nigerians through retail filling stations represents an average daily distribution of 55.4 million litres.

A breakdown of the NNPC weekly national evacuation report released yesterday showed that 80 percent of all the PMS took place at 20 high loading depots, while 20 percent took place at the other loading depots.

The NNPC said the top 20 high loading depots used are Pinnacle-Lekki, which evacuated the highest volume of 70.8 million litres; NIPCO (22.6 million litres), AITEO (22.3 million litres), Swift (16 million litres), 11 PLC (15.9 million litres); Bovas Bulk (15 million litres) and Frado (14.6 million litres).

Others are Keonamex (13.7 million litres), MRS Ltd (11.9 million litres), Rainoil (11.6 million litres), AYM Shafa (11.2 million litres), TSL (11.2 million litres), Rainoil Lagos (11.2 million litres), and Matrix (10 million litres), Conoil Lagos (9.7 million litres), AA Rano (8.8 million litres), Bluefin (8.4 million litres), HOGL (8.2 million litres), Ibafon Calabar (8 million litres) and Mainland (7.5 million litres).

With the distribution of 385.59 million litres in one week, the scarcity of petrol was arrested, with queues drastically reduced at filling stations in Abuja, Lagos, and other major cities, as selling outlets that had been shut for over a week due to supply gaps reopened for operations last Sunday.

In Abuja, retail outlets in the satellite towns, such as Bwari, Lugbe, Kubwa, Zuba, Kuje and others hitherto experiencing product shortages, were seen dispensing petrol to motorists last Sunday.

According to the NNPC, the methanol-blended product was imported into the country by four oil marketers through four Premium Motor Spirit cargoes under the NNPC’s Direct Sales Direct Purchase arrangement.

The four companies that supplied the methanol blended petrol are MRS, which made the importation through a vessel named MT Bow Pioneer, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium through a vessel identified as MT Tom Hilde, Oando through a vessel named MT Elka Apollon, and Duke Oil.

The product was purchased from International Trader, LITASCO and delivered through the LITASCO loading port terminal in Antwerp, Belgium.

In the midst of the crisis, NNPC promised that over 2.3 billion litres of PMS would be delivered before the end of February 2022 to totally arrest the situation.

Despite the frantic, transparent and accountability efforts of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, Mal Mele Kyari, to ensure the queues in our filling stations disappear, so many groups keep calling for the head of the NNPC.

After independent investigation, I noticed most of the so called groups are faceless; some are so nave about the petroleum sector, while the last sets are looking for ways to “milk” the NNPC.

In spite of the criticism, Mal Mele Kyari never lost courage. On Saturday, March 6 2022, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd. released details of the distribution of an additional 381.88 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to Nigerians.

The figure was released by the NNPC through its verified Twitter account.

According to the PMS Evacuation Report of the NNPC, the product was lifted from the depot and distributed to Nigerians through retail filling stations within a one-week period covering February 21st and 26th.

The release of the 381.88 million litres of petrol to Nigerians by the NNPC, represents an average daily distribution of 63.65 million litres.

This is in addition to the 387.5 million litres of petrol that was released to Nigerians during the week covering February 14th to February 20th.

A breakdown of the NNPC weekly national evacuation report showed that 80 per cent of all the distribution took place at the top 20 high loading depots.

It stated that the remaining 20 percent of the evacuation took place at the other loading depots.

The top 20 high loading depots that were used to evacuate the PMS are Pinnacle-Lekki, which evacuated the highest volume of 40.25 million litres, AA Rano (22.43 million litres), AYM Shafa (19.23 million litres), Prudent (17.78 million litres), 11 PLC (17.78 million litres), Rainoil Lagos (15.93 million litres), and Avidor (15.63 million litres).

There is also Fynefield with 12.39 million litres, Bull Strategic (12.2 million litres), Matrix (11.99 million litres), Koenamex (11.99 million litres), and Pinnacle (11.76 million litres).

The rest are NIPCO (10.78 million litres), Swift (10.01 million litres), Total Apapa (9.5 million litres), TSL (9.19 million litres), Sobaz Nig Ltd (8.94 million litres), Mainland (8.88 million litres) and Ardova (8.83 million litres).

I recall that the NNPC had last Wednesday assured Nigerians that it had a sufficient stock of petroleum products for distribution across the country.

The company also said that it had over 1.7 billion litres of PMS both on board and on land and did not have any plans to adjust the current price of PMS in the market.

The Group Managing Director of the NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, gave the assurances while addressing editors in a joint press briefing with the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).

The GMD blamed the current fuel queues at the filling station on panicked paying and called on Nigerians to buy what they needed per day.

He added that the NNPC is working assiduously with partners to ensure the product reaches every part of the country.

According to him, “NNPC is further intensifying efforts to resolve distribution hitches being experienced in some parts of the country due to logistics issues. We have engaged depot operators to load products round the clock to accelerate the restoration of normal distribution.”

We have the capacity now to load from all depots. We are currently running a 24-hour loading from all our depots, and we believe this will close the gap created by panic buying. We hope this will bring normalcy to the system soon.

The GMD also disclosed that the NNPC has engaged the services of government security agencies to ensure that all products loaded at the depot get to the right destination and affirmed that sanctions will be meted out to any operator selling above the stipulated pump price.

We sincerely apologize to our people and urge Nigerians to continue to be patient as we strive to return the situation to normalcy.

As the supplier of last resort, NNPC has continued to sustain adequate petroleum product supply and distribution to the nation despite challenges associated with the unending waves of pipeline vandalism, product theft, and cross-border smuggling of PMS.

“In line with the existing laws of the land, NNPC Ltd is deeply committed to ensuring energy security for the country,” the GMD said.

As of Sunday evening, the long queues have disappeared from most of the filling stations around Nyanya and the AYA axis of Abuja.

I told a friend that the fuel attendants who have become kings and queens for the past few weeks will surely return to begging consumers to buy from their pumps, while some will turn their pumps into sleeping rooms, as the fuel is now in excess and above-average use by Nigerians.

In all of this, I must commend the management team of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for putting Nigerians first and ensuring 24 hours of supply and adequate monitoring.

Adewole Kehinde is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja and can be reached via 08166240846, 08123608662. Email: kennyadewole@gmail.com   

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