#6:. DROP IN GLOBAL OIL PRICES
With global crude oil prices dropping to unprecedented levels of less than $25 per barrel late last year, landing cost of imported fuel translated to a retail price below the official pump price of N86 per litre, necessitating the marketers to pay back money to government in the form of over-recovery.
For marketers, the modulated fuel pricing mechanism introduced by government was not a good business, hence their resolve to drop out of the fuel importation programme.
The modulation mechanism provides an automatic adjustment that regulated retail price of fuel at the pump against the movement of prices at the international crude oil market, to minimise or eliminate subsidy payment.
The withdrawal of the independent and major marketers, which accounted for the supply of 55 per cent of the entire national fuel consumption, meant NNPC would move from providing 45 per cent capacity to 80 per cent initially, and ultimately 100 per cent of the supply.
Out of more than 26,700 filling stations nationwide, only 2,453 stations belong to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), comprising Mobil Oil, Total, Oando, Conoil, Forte Oil and MRS.
NNPC has only 37 mega stations located only in the capital cities in the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory. The rest of over 24,226 outlets located in the country’s hinterland belong to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).
Equally, out of nearly 130 fuel depots in the country, IPMAN, MOMAN and NNPC own them in the ratio of 83:24:22 respectively.
With inadequate capacity of the NNPC in terms of resources to handle the entire importation programme and the facilities to store and distribute even the inadequate quantity imported is part of the current fuel supply crisis.
The scarcity is simply because the NNPC is unable to import enough to meet growing demand.
The problem is worsened by the lack of involvement of the independent and major marketers in the fuel supply programme.
If an idle man is known to be a devil’s workshop, an idle marketer with a huge capacity than NNPC could be worse – a willing tool to sabotage the fuel supply effort for selfish reasons.
#7:. POOR IMPORT PLANNING SCHEDULE
Even in the best of times, the NNPC has not been the best of planners.
Under the current crisis, the situation appears to have worsened, because there are strong suggestions that the corporation did not do enough due diligence, in terms of advance planning and monitoring of the stock of fuel at the depots to know when they would run dry and ensure that fresh orders were placed on time to replenish depleting stocks.
Even where such stocks were experiencing unusual pressures, every forward planning country maintains a healthy strategic reserve or national reservoir it could draw from in contingencies to make up for any shortfall in supply till the import consignments arrive.
With the uncertainty and crisis the country is always exposed to each time there was a short delay in delivery of imported fuel cargoes, there are strong doubts that the country has any such strategic reserve or advance planning arrangement for fuel supply.
If there is, how long is that reserve capable of sustaining supply before the next crisis?
The effect of lack of planning has always been shortages, which always triggers ripples of panic buying by consumers perpetually unsure for how long the scarcity would last.