The increasing number of filling stations in Nigeria’s border towns is raising suspicion that they are funnels for fuel smuggling to neighbouring countries.
Maikanti Baru, the group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), raised the alarm on Sunday when he received the comptroller general of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, a retired colonel.
His instincts arose from a recent study commissioned by NNPC which showed that the more pumped petrol into the market does not translate to fewer queues.
“There is a thriving market for Nigerian petrol in all the neighouring countries of Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad and Togo and even Ghana which has no direct borders with Nigeria,” he said.
TheCable Petrobarometer had previously reported that smuggling had been on the rise as a result of increasing global crude oil prices, coupled by lower petrol prices in Nigeria.
Baru told Ali: “The activities of the smugglers led to recent observed abnormal surge in the evacuation of petrol from less than 35 million litres per day to more than 60 million litres per day which is in sharp contrast with established national consumption pattern.”
Providing a detailed presentation of the findings, the NNPC GMD said 16 states, having among them 61 LGAs with border communities, account for 2,201 registered fuel stations.
Their fuel tanks, he said, had a combined capacity of 144,998,700 litres of petrol.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which licenses refineries has promised to clamp down on erring filling states.