FG Sets 14-Man Panel to End Fuel Scarcity

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In order to establish strategic stock for Premium Motor Spirit, more commonly known as gasoline, in important areas across the nation, the Federal Government is now holding meetings with operators in the midstream and downstream oil sectors.

It stated that the national strategic stocks will aid in addressing Nigeria’s ongoing gasoline shortage and announced the formation of a 14-man team to find a long-term solution to the problems with the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

At the ongoing stakeholders’ consultation forum on midstream and downstream petroleum regulations, Ogbugo Ukoha, Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, revealed this information on the strategic stock on Tuesday in Abuja.

Speaking outside the gathering, he said that the National Strategic Stock Laws was one of the eight draft regulations that the authority had put together and that the NMDPRA and stakeholders were reviewing. He added that this was the third batch of regulations that the authority had produced.

He said, “Section 181 of the PIA (Petroleum Industry Act) compels us to develop strategic stock. On the supply issues that we usually have, recall that a few weeks ago, there was flooding in Lokoja and Bayelsa, and supplies were impacted negatively.

“We should have strategic stock across the country. And there are storage everywhere, even though pipelines need to be revamped. So this strategic stock regulations addresses that need, and it is a priority.”

 Speaking further, he said, “It takes three to four days for trucks from the coastal areas to get here (Abuja), and if something happens on the road, then you will see how it will impact on the supplies in the Federal Capital Territory.

“On Friday, we had to go to Niger State, where three trucks fell across the Bida-Lapai and Agae road. We were there to make sure that those trucks were cleared. But with the strategic stock, most of that will be addressed.

“If you have that kind of issue, you’ll just recall some volumes from the nearest storage. So these are very important draft regulations that the authority is putting forward.”

The 14-Man Committee

The midstream and downstream components of the sector held highly significant positions in the industry and the regulations being issued by the authority were crucial, according to the NMDPRA official.

“If you look at this third batch of draft regulations we are considering, there are eight of them and almost all of them speak to a particular aspect in the value chain,” he stated.

He continued, “There is a draft regulation on gas flare. You know that with the flares, it is not just to reduce or eliminate environmental hazards, but also to optimise them into power and also the revenues that are there.

“There is also, and within this eight, the draft regulation that will address penalties and enforcements. You can see how the situation is currently, that the authority, in the last few weeks, has sealed seven depots for over-pricing.

“So it is important that operators are mindful of consequences, and these regulations will give us further bite to enable us to enforce the rules we make in the industry.”

A 14-member Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution Management, which the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret. ), will personally head, has been established, according to the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

The action, according to the ministry, was made in an effort to find a long-term fix for the country-wide disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

Chief Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, served as the committee’s alternate chairman, according to the statement, and the group was charged with ensuring the efficient and transparent supply and distribution of petroleum products.

“Other terms of reference are to ensure national strategic stock management, visibility on the NNPC Limited refineries rehabilitation programme and ensure end-to-end tracking of petroleum products, especial PMS, to ascertain daily national consumption and eliminate smuggling,” the FMPR stated in a statement.

Sylva instructed the NMDPRA to make sure that the government-approved ex-depot and retail prices for PMS are strictly followed in order to ensure sanity in the supply and distribution across the value chain.

According to the ministry, the committee also consists of the Minister of Finance, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the President’s National Economic Adviser, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services.

Others are the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, and the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps.

Members of the committee included the Chief Executive of the NMDPRA, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, and the Special Advisor (Special Duties) to the HMSPR. The Technical Advisor (Midstream) to the HMSPR would act as secretary.

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