After weeks of respite, following more than three months of punishing petrol scarcity nationwide, long queues have appeared in Abuja and adjoining states.
Efforts to get the authorities, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, to intimate the cause of the latest development were unsuccessful, as the phones of the spokesman of the organisation, Mr Garba Muhammad, were switched off.
The long vehicle lines began to build on Saturday, and as of yesterday, THISDAY observed that the problem had worsened, as almost all private filling stations had no products. It was further noticed that while the NNPC mega stations were open for business, although with queues stretching over a kilometer in many places, the outskirts of Abuja were hardest hit.
In late January this year, Nigerians were confronted with supply disruptions, which began in Abuja, then spread to Lagos and other parts of the country after adulterated products went into circulation. The problem lasted until early April.
When the issue continued to linger, it was learnt that the deficit in the supply of crude oil cargoes from NNPC through its Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme complicated matters.
Under the DSDP scheme, the oil company provides crude oil to its trading partners, who in turn supply the NNPC with refined products worth the volume of crude received from the national oil company.
Sources at the firm had said that the deficit of about 17 cargoes in the DSDP obligation due to low oil production was responsible for the prolonged disruption. It is not clear if the matter has reared its head again this time, as the authorities have failed to provide any clarifications.
On Sunday, in Abuja and surrounding states, most filling stations were shut and motorists spent hours in the sun struggling to buy from the few that were open. This caused serious traffic jam in many parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Attempts to contact the spokesman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chinedu Ukadike, were also not successful, as calls to him went to the voicemail facility.
Before this latest episode, the cargoes with the issues, which had caused the prolonged shortage, were said to have arrived with high Sulphur content and were off-spec Nigeria’s standard.
It is unclear if any individual or company has been punished for the aberration, although NNPC had named some importers as culprits.
The federal government had backtracked on its plan to remove fuel subsidy in mid-2022, citing the need to protect the poor and vulnerable. It continues to import all products.
Many of the fuel stations visited by THISDAY, including Eterna and Enyo on Olusegun Obasanjo Way in Wuse, as well as Total on Herbert Macaulay, did not have products and more than half of the fuel pumps at the NNPC mega station in the area were not operational.
Culled from THISDAY