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Fuel scarcity may continue as long as NNPC remains sole importer—Iheanacho

Imo State-born tank farm owner and refinery developer, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, has opened up, revealing that that the prevailing fuel scarcity may beat all current fire brigade approaches being deploy by the government to remain afloat so far the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) remain both a regulator and player in the industry.

Otherwise, he linked the persistent scarcity of petrol to monopoly of the product imports by the Corporation, disclosing that “The current shortage in fuel importation gap was caused by the landing cost margin of N171 per litre and the selling cost pegged at N 145 per litre”.

His comments came same day world oil prices jumped to two-year peak of $66 following shocks caused by attacks and explosions at Libya’s leading oil loading terminal in Tripoli.

The former Minister of Interior and Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd., told Business Hilights in Lagos on Tuesday that the inability of NNPC to create a window for private importers to import petrol compounded the crisis as the validity of the NNPC to keep on saturating the country with petrol seems to have expired with the current experiences of Nigerians.

Giving details insights on the interpretation of the current landing cost margin of N171 per litre, the former governorship candidate in Imo State made it clear that selling fuel at N145 with the landing cost has become unrealistic for marketers to import and sell.

According to him, “The selling of the product at N145 per litre is no longer feasible with the current exchange rate.

“Shortage of foreign exchange and increase in crude prices have made it unprofitable to import petrol and sell same at N145 per litre.

“The problem is that importation of petrol is being handled, almost 100 per cent, by NNPC, while private importers backed out because the increase in crude price has made the landing cost high,” he said.

Continuing, petroleum marketer averred that the marketers’ huge debts of over N800 billion had also contributed to their inability to import petrol as most independent marketers had closed their companies due to inability to pay their workers.

He hinted further that part of the possible deals to normalize product circulation must include government’s immediate settlement of all the outstanding debts owed marketers since 2015 as commercial banks have started taken over the property and tank farms of some companies that could not pay back their loans.

He was however silent on whether scarcity will actually ease with the ongoing random sealing of petrol stations in urban areas by the NNPC and DPR.