Men of the Niger state command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have seized eight trucks laden with a total of 469,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit, commonly known as petrol.
This is even as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has raised the alarm over cross-border fuel smuggling syndicates and hoarders which have negatively impacted on availability of fuel in the country.
An NNPC statement quoted the Niger state commandant of NSCDC, Yakubu Ayuba, as saying six of the trucks belong to one marketer, although the identity was not disclosed.
The seizure came just as NNPC group managing director Maikanti Baru told the joint committee on petroleum downstream of the national assembly that the rising smuggling was already over-stretching NNPC’s capability to meet the fuel requirements of the nation.
According to Baru, while petrol supply across the country averaged 55 million litres a day since the beginning of December 2017 — well above the projected consumption rate of 35 million litres per day — the country still experienced shortages because much of the volumes were being smuggled out of the country.
The smuggling syndicates are cashing in on the obvious petrol price differentials between Nigeria and neighboring countries to make illicit profit.
“The sudden and unnatural shock in fuel consumption to record levels has over-stretched the direct-sale-direct-supply (DSDP) crude for product supply arrangement which was originally based on 35 million per day petrol consumption pattern,” Baru said.
The NNPC chief executive’s position confirms a report by TheCable Petrobarometer which revealed that the upward swing in the prices of crude oil in the international market was fueling the smuggling of petrol from Nigeria.
Marketers purchased the fuel at a cheaper price of N145 per litre in Nigeria and sell at a higher price in neighbouring countries.
Baru explained that apart from straining the ability of NNPC to sustain the prevailing 100 percent PMS importation in the face of increasing cost, the current situation was impacting negatively on NNPC’s resources for servicing Joint Venture Cash-Call and other obligations.
He said to sustain adequate supply of petroleum products and national energy security, there was the need for the federal government to provide flush volumes in January and March 2018, as well as create enabling environment for other oil marketing companies to participate in the importation of petroleum products.
He also noted the need to double supply in order to raise the fuel sufficiency template back to the 30 days threshold from the current 15 days by bringing in at least two vessels per day for 20 days.