By Edith Ike-Eboh
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is seeking collaboration with the Nigeria Custom Services (NCS) to put to an end smuggling and diversion of petroleum products out of the country through the borders.
Dr Maikanti Baru, the Group General Manger of the Corporation disclosed this while on a courtesy visit to the Comptroller General of NCS, retired Col. Hammed Ali, on Friday in Abuja.
“My mission today is to sensitise your top management on the issues relating to smuggling of Petroleum products, particularly the regulated one which is the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as Petrol.
“We have seen a lot of volumes being smuggled out of the country, we have seen volumes been evacuated in very high quantities.
“ I want to bring to your attention that there is a huge differential between Nigeria’s sells price of petrol and that of our neighboring countries.
According to Baru, because of the regulation of the price, government is under recovering a lot of cost base on landing cost and exchange rate of the product in the country.
He said that currently it had been observed that the marketers sell the products between N170 to N185 per litre.
These challenge, he said had made marketers to stop importing and left NNPC with the sole importation of the products.
He said special market for Nigerian product were been created in the various neighbouring countries to sell these smuggled products.
He added that the arbitrage opportunities in the neighbouring countries had pushed daily National consumption from less than 35 million litres per day to over 55 million litres per day.
The GMD said that in Benin, Togo and Ghana PMS was sold at N292.8, N308 and N311.10 per litre respectively while in Niger, Chad and Cameroon it was also sold at N367,N326.35 and N400 respectively.
“During the recent PMS supply and distribution challenge, it was observed that unpatriotic marketers are exploiting both land and coastal borders to smuggle out petroleum products to other west African countries.
“This is because of sheer greed and lack of national Patroitisim,’’ he said
He said that the smuggling of the these products in trucks, cars, Motorcycles, drums from filling station in the borders was very worrisome.
He noted that continued smuggling of the product would deny Nigerians the federal government benevolence of fixing retail price at N145 per litre.
Commenting on the economic impact of the act, he said that diversion and smuggling of the products constitutes serious threat to economic stability in the country.
He said that situation had heightened consumption growth from less than 30 million litres per day in August 2017 to average of over 50 million litres per day with a peak of 84.2 million litres on Dec. 8, 2017.
“This high consumption volume indicates hoarding, diversion and possible smuggling to neighbouring countries,’’ he said
On rehabilitation of the refineries, Baru urged the service to continue its support to ensure fast and easy clearance of spare parts need for the work.
“This will help us to met the target given to us by the president to ensure that the refineries starts operation by 2019,’’ he said
Responding, Ali commended that Corporation for sharing such huge information and pledged that the service would support the drive to put to an end smuggling of all sort in the country.
He said that there was the need to review the Petroleum Products price policy to help manage the price differentials that help to promote diversion and smuggling of product to neighboring countries.
The Comptroller expressed fear that even when the price of product was to be increased, marketers would still find a way to thwart government effort.
He challenged that Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR) to ensure stringent measures were taken to punish any defaulter of the law.
He called for total removal of the subsidy to allow market forces to control the price of the product since sustaining it remained a challenge.
He assured the corporation of its readiness to collaborate especially on information and intelligence sharing.(NAN)