The Federal Government is said to be indebted to major oil marketers to the tune of N120 billion in subsidy arrears for fuel imports it made in the last two quarters of 2013.
Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore, who reeled out the figures at media briefing held in Lagos yesterday, explained that subsidy claims amount to N100 billion while N20 billion was for accumulated interest on foreign exchange spanning the last two quarters of 2013.
The MOMAN boss said that although the Federal Government had said that it was processing the outstanding payment for last two quarters of 2013, it should speed up the payment of other marketers to avoid shortages in the supply chain.
He explained that the impending scarcity may occur by mid February due to the inability of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to release import allocation to oil trading and marketing companies for first quarter of 2014.
‘‘The stock available to MOMAN members at Apapa depot cannot last beyond Friday. And I have it on good record that two out of the six companies that make up MOMAN are already out of stock. So that tells Nigerians the situation at hand,’’ he said.
MOMAN members include Mobil, Total, MRS, Forte, Conoil and Oando.
The MOMAN helmsman claimed that the association accounts for about 60 per cent of the national demand of petroleum products, with a daily truck out capacity of 12 million litres, hence, he said the association cannot afford to go out of stock in the interest of the country.
But in order to avert the situation, Olawore called on PPPRA to, as a matter of urgency, release import allocation for first quarter of 2014 so that marketers can commence the importation of fuel without further delay because it takes weeks for cargoes to arrive the country. The Executive Secretary warned against a situation where importation of petroleum products is left in the hands of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) because such had been tried before and it failed, due to the inability of PPMC to meet its financial obligations to its suppliers, which often left the country in acute shortage of petroleum products.
Oil marketers have been waiting for the PPPRA to release the allocation after they had submitted their applications since last year.
The marketers have become increasingly apprehensive as January rounds off without the PPPRA releasing the approval for marketers to import products. He dispelled insinuations that marketers may have resorted to anticipatory imports, saying such was no longer possible under the current management of PPPRA, which, he said, is committed to restoring sanity to the subsidy regime that hitherto had been enmeshed in scandals.
Meanwhile calls made to the telephone of the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Stanley, were not answered while a text message to him was also not responded to as at 6.55pm yesterday evening. In his reaction, the Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Farouk Omar, said NNPC is not in any way involved in import allocation, explaining that just like any other marketer, NNPC is also a player in that regard.
‘‘Let me correct this impression. NNPC does not approve import allocation. We are like any other supplier because NNPC get allocation as well from the relevant authority backed by law to carry out that function. And that agency is PPPRA,’’ he said.