Speaking with newsmen after defending the corporation’s 2014 budget before the Joint National Assembly Committee on Petroleum and Gas (Upstream), the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, on Wednesday, with particular reference to Lagos explained that the corporation, in collaboration with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Pipeline Products and Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Pipeline Products and Marketing Company (PPMC), had deployed an adhoc team to the state, with the mandate to find lasting solution to the menace.
While expressing the hope that beginning from Wednesday, the crisis would begin to fizzle out, Yakubu said so far, over 1,000 trucks had been dispatched to Lagos and other areas.
“We have a full team right now in Lagos. Last week, the team was in Abuja. We went round the clock to clean it up; to get strategic reserve released to the stations and we are able to reduce the fuel queues. We shifted to Lagos at the weekend and we have injected quite a lot into the Lagos market.
“All the marketers, the DPR, the PPRA, NNPC and the PPMC have a very strong team out there to ensure that the deliveries are made.
“Offshore, we have some vessels that had not been offloaded into the tank farms in Lagos and a lot of supplies have gone into most filling stations.
“In the last couple of days, we have close to 1,000 trucks that had been loaded out of the various depots and jetties in Lagos and the entire fuel is being supplied to the various stations in Lagos and beyond.
“As at the close of business on Tuesday, most filling stations in Victoria Island and Ikoyi were dispensing fuel and we expect that other parts of Lagos will be impacted by the increase in the fuel supply strategy that the combined team has been doing.
“Hopefully by the end of work today (Wednesday), we would begin to see a change in the fuel scarcity situation in Lagos,” he said.
NNPC’s claim that the scarcity was caused by breach in network was in contrast with the submission of DPR on Tuesday.
DPR’s Zonal Operations Controller, Aliyu Halidu, had told the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), during its budget defence that the scarcity was caused by non-renewal of contracts of some independent marketers, who import the product as well as non-payment of subsidy fund to other marketers by the Federal Government.
The NNPC boss disclosed that the corporation has 20 depots, with pipelines stretching as long as 5,000 kilometres, noting that this type of scarcity only occurs when the distribution network is breached.
He, however, promised that the challenge is temporal as effort was being made to fix the breach.
He said: “The best way to distribute fuel is through the pipeline network to our various depots that are all over the country. We have over 20 of them and about 5, 000 kilometres stretch of pipelines and that is the best and the most efficient way to distribute petroleum products. But when they are breached, then you have this kind of challenge.
“Making use of 1,000 kilometres per day to distribute fuel across the country is usually not the best but when we are faced with this situation, then the fall back will be the truck and that should be temporary and as soon as we fix the pipelines, normalcy will be restored.”
The acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim also said that all hands were on deck to return normalcy to the fuel supply chain in the country.
Dr. Ibrahim noted that several vessels have being allocated to the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), to wet the nation with products adding that NIPCO, CONOIL and others also have their vessels discharging to clear up the queues.
He noted that over 209 million litres of fuel has been discharged in Lagos ports in the last 24 hours.
“I can confirm to you that the NNPC has allocated additional vessels laden with pms to MOMAN and other suppliers and they are currently discharging the products at Atlas Cove, Apapa, IBM Jetty, Capital Jetty and SPM Jetty in logos,” Ibrahim affirmed.
He disclosed that other vessels were also discharging fuel at Port Harcourt and Oghara in Delta State, adding that the queues will thin out in the next few days.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC has urged the Federal Government to level up with Nigerians on the reasons for the fuel scarcity. In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the fact that the scarcity has persisted has put a lie to the government’s well-worn line that the long queues at filling stations were caused by panic buying.