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Fuel Scarcity Continues as Black Market Booms, Sells at 300/L

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…We can’t justify subsidy removal, Western countries subsidising fuel too – Buhari

Fuel scarcity worsened in Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory and other parts of the country on Tuesday, resulting in motorists spending hours at filling stations.For oil marketers, the solution to the worsening fuel queues across the country is for the Federal Government to approve an increase in the pump price of the commodity.Although some marketers had already raised the price of fuel in their outlets, they admitted that the move had not been approved by the government, noting that dealers could be sanctioned for selling above the regulated rate.

The approved pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, is N165/litre, but marketers are currently kicking against this rate, saying that it is no longer sustainable going by the global crisis in the energy sector.A retail outlet located in the Kubwa Village Market, Abuja, dispensed petrol at N195/litre to motorists and still had queues.Heavy fuel queues were seen in the few filling stations that sold petrol at the approved rate on Tuesday. Some of them included: the NNPC close to Gwarimpa on the Zuba-Kubwa expressway, Total filling station opposite the headquarters of NNPC, Nipco filling station on Zuba expressway, among others.

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“The solution to this crisis is to increase petrol price and have it approved because the cost of diesel used in transporting these products to retail stations has risen from about N250/litre a few months ago to around N850/litre currently,” the Deputy National President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Zarma Mustapha, told one of our correspondents.

The IPMAN official explained that the widespread queues in Nigeria were related to the global energy crisis that had dragged on for about four months since the Ukraine/Russia war started.“Because of that crisis, the prices of crude have increased astronomically and Russia, being the largest producer of diesel globally, is inaccessible. So, people are not having access to purchase diesel, knowing full well that our refineries are not working,” Mustapha stated.He added, “We solely depend on imported diesel, so based on that, the scarcity of diesel has become worse, which is the major product we use in transporting fuel to filling stations.

“The marketers have engaged the government in trying to see how best we can cushion the effects of the rise in diesel price. But, unfortunately, the price has continued to rise and based on that the government made an upward review of the bridging claims.

He noted that despite the little upward reviews of the bridging rates in May and June this year, the adjustments were still not enough to cover the cost of transporting products.

Mustapha, however, stated that marketers were engaging the Federal Government, adding that it had been confirmed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had enough stock.

Black market booms

Black market players took advantage of the fuel scarcity, selling as high as N300/litre in Lagos, Abuja, Nasarawa and other states.“There is no fuel at all. So, we have to buy from black marketers for N300/litre,” one of the conductors plying Cele to Berger, Mowe, and Ibafo in Lagos told one of our correspondents on Tuesday.Petrol is yet to be deregulated and the current official price puts the product at between N162 and N165/litre.Independent marketers, who started implementing a new price unapproved regime of between N170 to N190/litre at the weekend, insisted on Monday that it would be difficult for them to sell at the official pump price.National Operations Controller, South-West, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, had told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that the scarcity was no fault of oil marketers, adding that they could no longer sell at N165/litre.“It is what they give us that we will sell. And we’ve had a short supply for some days now. It is a monopolistic market because NNPC is the only supplier. Currently, our members buy at N164 – N165/litre. How much are we expected to sell after adding transportation costs?” he asked.“Moreover, the high price of diesel, which currently stands at N820/litre, has compelled us to spend as much as N500,000 and N800,000 to take a tanker of the product from Lagos and Ibadan,” he added.The association had also, in a press statement on Monday, said its members could no longer sell below N180/litre.

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