Contaminated fuel: Season of pain, sorrow

Affected filling stations confused on how to evacuate adulterated petrol imported from Belgium

Motorists, commuters suffer as product price skyrockets

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By Adewale Sanyaolu

The recent importation of adulterated Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) popularly called petrol said to be high in methanol content has continued to spark outrage across the country over its attendant socio-economic effect on the citizenry.Untitled8 19

The development has led to acute shortage of petrol with the majority of depots and filling stations running out of stock.

Motorists now have to keep vigil at filling stations as the price of a litre of petrol has skyrocked to N200 and N400 respectively in Lagos and Abuja.

Commeneting on the development, the Independent Petroleum Marketers

Association of Nigeria (IPMAN)

disclosed that no inland depot has received clean petrol that would boost supply to filling stations.

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IPMAN Public Relations Officer, Chinedu Ukadike, said the Federal Government was yet to improve supply, warning that it would take another two

weeks for supply to normalize.

In Abuja, there was no sign of let-up in the shortage of petrol as fewer stations were opened to motorists with black marketers selling at N400 per litre.

Ukadike said that the challenges facing the downstream sector were

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enormously, urging the government to begin the process of compensating marketers who have lost a lot of money during the period.

He explained: “Nothing much has changed in the last few days, the issue is that up till now we have not seen the intervention of the NNPC based on evacuating these products (bad fuel) from some of our stations. Some marketers are trying to see if they can get new products and blend it to see if they can move.

“Marketers’ capitals have been tied down and the bad product is also occupying their storage tank and that is why you are seeing some skeletal services. Some also have their tanks quarantined, so it is not easy.

“We have been expecting products in the inland depots like the Port Harcourt Refinery depot but up till now, no product has been received. These things happen. Once there is a break in the supply chain it will take some time to fix. Forget what people are saying, it will take one-two to three weeks to fill in the gaps. It is talking about evacuating and replacing, it is not just about the shortage, it is also about evacuating and replacing.”

He noted that while Port Harcourt where he is based has not witnessed the acute shortage being experienced in many parts of the country, he said most of the marketers who have placed orders have not received the supply.

While urging consumers to be patient, he observed that many motorists have engaged in racketeering where they “fill up their tanks, go to sell to black marketers and return to the queues. I want to advise our people to stop patronizing black marketers, this will help also in solving the problem”, he added.

However, the claim of IPMAN contradicted the position of NNPC which said that it has over one billion litres of certified petrol stock that is safe for use in vehicles and machinery.

The NNPC in a statement released on Tuesday equally said that it has commenced 24-hour operations in NNPC depots and retails outlets to restore normal supply and distribution of petrol across the country.

But, a Twitter user, Anthony Unegbu, while responding to the NNPC statement said that the reality on ground does not support the content of the press statement.

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‘‘Why did NNPC depot at Aba not sell even one litre of petrol yesterday (February 15, 2022)? People have payments made since over two months and the tickets have not been released. Prove me wrong by showing pictures,’’ he queried.

There have equally been widespread reported cases of damage to vehicle engines occasioned by the adulterated fuel.

An online video which surfaced recently shows a petrol attendant complaining about how the adulterated petrol dispensed at the station damaged cars and motorcycle engines.

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While pointing at some of the grounded vehicles, he said many motorists have reported the matter to the police.

Some of the motorists who spoke to Sunday Sun in separate interviews said, if not urgently addressed, the situation was capable of further pushing more Nigerians below the poverty net.

‘‘Should my vehicle be damaged as a result of this contaminated fuel, who will bail me out? How do I feed my family and other family members that depend on me for survival,” Mufu Akande, a transporter who plies CMS to Ajah queried.

In a telephone interview with Sunday Sun, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Mr. Babatunde Irukera, while sympatising with those whose vehicles may have been damaged due to the adulterated petrol said that the FCCPC was already in talks with NMDPRA, NNPC, Standards Organisation of Nigeria(SON) on the way forward.

He said that FCCPC will collate data on those affected and develop a methodology on how best to resolve the issue.

He admitted that the issue remained a complicated one, but that the FCCPC will not rest on its oars in order to ensure that consumers are not left in the cold.

The adulterated petrol according to the regulator-Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority(NMDPRA) has proved to be high in methanol concentration.

Upon the discovery of the adulterated fuel, NMDPRA in conjunction with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited commenced moves to recall the bad product in order to save Nigerians, especially motorists untold hardship.

But prior to its recall, the adulterated fuel had already found its way into the Nigerian petroleum retail products market.

The outcome of the penetration of the bad product into the Nigerian market was a monumental damage to motor vehicle engines, generators and other mechanical devices that use petrol as its source of energy.

Addressing the media on the adulterated imported petrol, Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of NNPC Limited, Mr Mele Kyari, made a shocking revelation when he admitted that a subsidiary of NNPC, Duke Oil Limited and three other private Nigerian company operating in the downstream sector imported four PMS cargoes which contained methanol.

He listed the three other companies to include; MRS, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium and Oando.

He said that NNPC investigation revealed the presence of Methanol in four PMS cargoes imported by MRS, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, Oando, and Duke Oil.

Kyari added that the adulterated fuel was imported into the country from Antwerp in Belgium with quality inspectors failing to detect the high level of Methanol contained in it, first at the point of import in Belgium and later at the point of arrival in Nigeria.

The NNPC boss who did not give the date of import, however, disclosed that the NNPC found out about the situation late in January following a report received from their quality inspector on the presence of emulsion particles in PMS cargoes shipped to Nigeria from Antwerp-Belgium.

MRS used the vessel, MT Bow Pioneer; Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium imported the product via the vessel MT Tom Hilde; Oando used the vessel MT Elka Apollon, while Duke Oil imported its PMS using MT Nord Gainer.

Kyari explained that the PMS contained methanol was not detected by checks because the quality checks do not include checks for Methanol percentage, adding that cargoes quality certificates issued at load port (Antwerp-Belgium) by AmSpec Belgium indicated that the gasoline complied with Nigerian specification.

He also said that the NNPC quality inspectors, including GMO, SGS, GeoChem and G&G as well as inspection agents appointed by the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority certified that the cargoes met Nigerian specification.

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