Kachikwu calls for adequate border policing to check fuel diversion

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Thursday described as shameful Nigeria's inability to refine its crude oil.

Dr. Ibe Kachikwu disclosed this during a presentation to a joint committee on Petroleum (Downstream) of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Representatives of the Independent petroleum marketers of Nigeria IPMAN and Depot and petroleum marketers of Nigeria DAPMAN denied reports that the current fuel scarcity was as a result of blackmail by Marketers saying that since October previous year petroleum marketers have been unable to import petrol due to hike in the landing cost of crude.

Both agencies which are under the supervision of Kachikwu had even stated that some marketers in some parts of the country had been caught hoarding the products, and that they would be sanctioned.

He added: "It is what I might call an emergency before the work that we are doing on the refineries that would be finished sometime in 2019".

"We want to find a lasting solution and that is what the committee will come out with in the resolutions tomorrow (Wednesday)".

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"Ultimately what this country needs is to have its refineries working and I have said that it is shameful that after 30, 40 years of activities in the downstream, can not produce sufficient [petroleum products]".

"Since the price of crude is directly proportional to the refined product, we could not import petrol and sell at N145 anymore".

The National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chinedu Okoronkwo, said with yesterday's meeting, "Nigerians should go home and be glad because the issues of constant fuel supply have been resolved".

The minister also expressed regrets that some people took advantage of the situation. "How do we take corrective measures to avoid it, and what are the things creating the difficulties in the system", he explained. As at today, NNPC imports 100 per cent of petroleum products into the country as against an earlier arrangement of 60 to 40 percent government, private sector participation.

Other members of the Kachikwu committee are the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, most parastatals under the ministry, IPMAN, DAPMAN and labour unions, among others.

According to him, government has mandated him and a committee set up, to find ways out of the problem until the local refineries become functional in 18 months time.

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He said for the price to remain N145/litre, the government had to find other ways to manage the situation as marketers could no longer import and sell at N145.

"Two, to give room for modulated deregulation where NNPC would be allowed to continue selling at N145 per litre in all its mega stations across the country while the independent marketers should be allowed to sell at whatever price is profitable to them in all their outlets".

"There has been a loose enforcement on diversion in the country".

"Going forward we need to address the issue of pricing, there is a disparity between landing cost and cost we are selling". "As far as we are concerned, there is no subsidy in the budget, as far as we are concerned, marketers can not import and sell at N145".

The source said that: "The discussion was how to make the fuel available nationwide". This is to enable us get our product directly and sell at the pump price.

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