The queues for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, cleared suddenly in most parts of Abuja, Niger, Nasarawa and other states on Wednesday, following the release of about 67 million litres of PMS by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to marketers.
Virtually all the major filling stations that used to have heavy queues before, were seen without queues on Wednesday, as most of them dispensed petrol to the cars sighted in their various outlets.
This came as the NNPC revealed that some of its 67 million litres daily supply of PMS was not only smuggled by trucks to neighbouring countries but through marine vessels.
Our correspondent observed that the Nipco, NNPC, Salbas and few other outlets on the busy Kubwa-Zuba Expressway were dispensing products to motorists and had no queues. But this was not the case on Tuesday.
Also, outlets in Nyanya, Nasarawa State, and Zuba, Niger State, sold products to motorists and had no queues on Wednesday, contrary to what obtained the preceding day, where there were very limited filling stations in operation.
Explaining the fuel supply data for the country since January 2022, during a meeting with stakeholders in Abuja, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mele Kyari, said, “Anytime we go down below 60 million litres of evacuation consistently for more than three days, we’ll have a crisis across the country.”
He added, “We know that there may be no valid so-called consumption figure, but we know the evacuation figure. Anytime the evacuation figure goes below 60 million litres daily, you’ll have a crisis.
“Remember, early in 2022 when we had the contaminated fuel, evacuation came down to 56 million litres on average and we had a crisis. We managed to ramp up by adding volumes to the market to fill the gaps. So we achieved normalcy.
“I recollect, in October, when the flooding happened, trucks could not go to their destinations, particularly moving from the South into the North and our evacuation went below 60 million, and you can remember what happened.”
Kyari stated that since then, NNPC had done everything possible to keep the supply or evacuation above 60 million litres consistently, as he argued that there was no shortage of fuel going into the market, rather the products might be in the wrong destination.
“One thing that is also very practical is that Nigeria’s fuel is smuggled to other countries. This is not a secret. But it can only be done by either all of us in this room or people buying from us,” he stated.
Nigeria’s petrol smuggled through marine vessels
Kyari continued, “So there’s no dispute about this that our fuel gets to other countries, including in marine containers. We have evidence now that some of our customers are actually taking investors to other countries and we will get to the root of this.
“The appropriate government security agencies will deal with this. But this is the reality that we are dealing with. You do have cross-border smuggling, either in form of round-tripping or whatever name we call it, the product leaves our country and creates the challenges we see today.
“So the 66 or 67 million litres that you have always seen include all these, the cross-border smuggling volumes. And it means that anytime we don’t satisfy those markets, it will affect your domestic market. This is the reality that we are dealing with.”