Dearth of kerosene bites harder in Nigeria, the number one exporter of crude in Africa, despite 4.6 million litres of product, which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says its refineries produce daily, reports ADEOLA YUSUF
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), for the umpteenth time last week, rolled out figures on reasons it believes that the blame for acute shortage of Dual Purpose Kerosene, otherwise known as kerosene, currently rocking Nigeria should not be placed at its doorstep.
The three refineries under its control, the Corporation said, “roared into action” to produce additional volumes of 4.6 million litres of kerosene. This production goes hand-in-hand with 7.7 million litres of Automative Gas Oil, otherwise known as diesel.
Despite the claim of 4.6 million daily kerosene production from refineries, the acute shortage of the product continues, spreading to major cities and causing huge increase in prices. Already, many residents have, as a result of this situation, turned to alternatives such as firewood despite its health risk.
Many filling stations in Lagos, checks by New Telegraph showed, have run dry of kerosene. The case is not different in four other states of Kaduna, Cross River, Ogun and Oyo that were monitored by this newspaper. All the filling stations on the stretch of Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, including the NNPC mega station, were, as at the time of filing this report, dry of kerosene.
The product is, however, scantily available at retail black market where it is being sold at high prices. While in one of the filling stations in Kaduna, the attendants, who said the scarcity began on January 2, stated that the acute product shortage was becoming tougher.
“There is no supply from Lagos depots and Kaduna Refinery,” she said. “We have no supply of DPK since the 2nd of this month. The one you see our vendors selling they bought since Christmas,” another attendant at Faith and Marvelous filling station in Ota said.
Chief Operating Officer of the Refineries, Mr. Anibor Kragha, according to a statement by the NNPC, insisted while making a presentation before the Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream on the current status of the refineries at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja that the refineries in the country were now producing 4.6 million litres of kerosene.
Kragha, the statement, issued by Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, said that the Port Harcourt Refining Company Lim-ited (PHRC), Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) and the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC) were all back on stream.
Tour of refineries
“The refineries are all running, they are producing and they are all fully re-streamed. We are ready to take distinguished senators of this committee on a facility tour of all of them on a date that is convenient for the senators to have a first-hand status of the refineries,” Kragha said, with absolute assurance that the refineries were actually producing kerosene.
The Chief Operating Officer also noted that efforts were underway for the refineries to commence the production of Aviation Turbine Kerosene, otherwise known as Jet A1 fuel. The corporation, he added, was also working on a holistic strategic plan to ensure the operational integrity of the refineries, adding that the challenges of aging equipment within the refineries were surmountable.
He assured the committee that the NNPC would continue to work hard to ensure availability of petroleum products nationwide, stressing that the refineries were also producing Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol.
In his remarks, the Senate Committee Chairman on Petroleum Downstream, Senator Kabir Garba Marafa, assured the NNPC of the committees’ readiness to continue to provide strategic support to the corporation in order for it to meet its statutory mandate.
In search of NNPC’s kerosene
Latest monthly financial and operations report of the NNPC showed that the last time the corporation imported kerosene was in September of 2016. With a volume of 33,662,899.42 litres, the report for the month of November, also indicated that the total production from the three refineries for the over 170 million Nigerians was a paltry 42,313,316 as against 84,153,826 last October.
The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had said in reaction to the scarcity that there was no drop of kerosene in private and NNPC depots in Lagos. National Chairman of Surface Tank Kerosene Peddlers (SUTAKEP) branch of NUPENG, Rotimi Benjamin, told newsmen in Lagos that the product was last brought to the depot on December 27, 2016.
He urged the government to come to the aid of the masses, who cannot afford cooking gas, by supplying kerosene to the depots so that it would be available at filling stations. The poor performance of the refineries and the inconsistent import trend to augment local production, Benjamin said, could be adduced to the current kerosene scarcity being witnessed across the country.
Same scarcity, same story
Before this, the corporation had issued a statement, in which it maintained: “The resumption of refining of AGO and DPK is expected to balance the disequilibrium in demand and supply of the white products being experienced in recent times in parts of the country.”
The statement also issued by Ughamadu read that each of the refineries produces an average of two million litres of kerosene. Speaking on the production level of the Warri refinery, the Managing Director of the company, Engr. Solomon Ladenegan, said the plant had been doing well since the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) was revved up on January 7 this year. Ladenegan said the refinery resumed production with the plant’s CDU functioning.
The refinery MD stated that the plant now refined two million litres of kerosene and three million litres of diesel daily. “This morning, we have pumped the products to PPMC and they have started loading. They are going to load up to one million litres of DPK and AGO. The products are there in the tank and we are doing everything to get them to the market,” Ladenegan disclosed. On his part, the Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Dr Bafred Enjugu, the statement read, said Port Harcourt Refinery was producing three million litres of AGO daily, in addition to millions of DPK being churned out by the refinery daily.
Enjugu noted that his operators were thrilled having rehabilitated the old Port Harcourt Refinery where production of AGO was being carried out by themselves without foreign expertise deployment.
The Kaduna Refinery, NNPC claimed, had also “roared into action, producing millions of litres of white products to ease out the situation in supply and distribution of petroleum products nationwide.”
An independent marketer, Alhaji Abubakar Usman Yahaya, of Yamoyus Nigeria Ltd, described the refinery and the depot environment as positive, affirming that he and his comarketers had access to PMS, AGO and DPK in sufficient quantities. “I think this is because the refinery has started working,” Yahaya was quoted to have stated.
Importation to the rescue
Besides the products from the refineries, NNPC said it had made arrangements for additional supply intervention through direct import of PMS, AGO and DPK to sustain availability across the country. It would be recalled that NNPC broke the jinx of end-ofyear products shortage during the last Yuletide season by ensuring copious products supply across every nook and cranny of the country.
Higher price for scarce product
In Calabar, the scarcity has led to an increase in price to between N350 and N400 per litre from less than N300 per litre. A survey showed that the product was not available in any filling station in the Cross River capital and its suburbs. However, the product was available only in surface tanks in parts of the city, where dealers sold it at N350 per litre. The itinerant retailers, the survey revealed, sold the commodity between N380 and N400 per litre, depending on the area.
A resident of Ikot Efanga area of the city, Grace Nja, said that she bought the product at N280 at a filling station penultimate week. A petrol product marketers in the state, Ms. Nja alleged, sold their consignments wholly to some middlemen from neighbouring states, instead of the consumers within the state.
“I went to buy kerosene and I saw some women from outside the state carrying big cans and buying the product in large quantity. “So, they are the ones that buy up the entire supply in the state,” she said. Another resident, Elizabeth Sunday, according to the survey conducted by New Agency of Nigeria (NAN), decried the situation and described it as greed on the part of the product marketers. “This is bad for us the poor people of this country. I am a widow and I don’t have money to buy gas cooker.
Now the price of kerosene is out of my reach and it is hard to feed nowadays. She has some words for government: “My appeal is that government should do something to change the situation in the interest of the masses,” she said. Ekpenyong Lazarus, a resident of Akamkpa in Akamkpa Local Government Area, said that the product sold for N400 per litre in the area. “That is only when you are able to find it at all,” he added.
Invited to a facility tour of the refineries by the NNPC, the senators owe Nigerians a duty to verify claims of 4.6 million litres daily kerosene production from the installations. They should also facilitate actions that will genuinely guarantee funding and revival of the ailing refineries for the benefit of citizens of Africa’s biggest crude exporter, who are, at the moment, suffering in the midst of plenty.
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