By Yetunde Bada
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Friday said it had taken measures to recover 130 million litres of petrol that evaporated from the depots of Capital Oil & Gas and MRS in Lagos.
The NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Mr Henry Ikem-Obih, made this known in Abuja in a statement by Mr Ndu Ughamadu, NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division.
Ikem-Obih said that the 130 million litres would be recovered from facilities of two indigenous operators.
He said that over 100 million litres of petrol stored at the Capital Oil & Gas depot and over 30 million litres in MRS Limited depot, all in Apapa area of Lagos, were not found when needed.
“We instructed the Nigerian Products Marketing Company (NPMC), a subsidiary of NNPC, to send additional trucks to those locations to move products for distribution aimed at meeting a supply shortfall we discovered in the market.
“After days of not being able to access the terminals, we had to take a decision as NNPC Management, to invite auditors and inspectors to go and do a physical check on the inventories.
“The visit revealed that there was no molecule of product for the NNPC to evacuate,’’ he said.
Ikem-Obih said the infraction by the two downstream companies was a clear violation of existing contract, which prohibited the firms from tampering with the volumes in their custody without express permission of the corporation
He said, “armed with this information we promptly called them in to explain to us what happened to our product in their custody.
“After the meeting with them, we issued them letters and told them in clear terms to do either of two things.
“One, return to us the full volume of what was stored in their depots litre-for-litre or pay the full value of the products they took without our approval.’’
He said that NNPC alerted the Directorate of State Service (DSS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and relevant committees of National Assembly with oversight function on the corporation’s downstream operation to help recover the assets.
Ikem-Obih said that this was contrary to the insinuation that NNPC kept mute over the infraction until the Senate uncovered it.
“So far, MRS has fully complied by returning the 30 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) that it expropriated.
“But, we have not achieved much progress with Capital Oil & Gas which has yet to return 82 million litres of petrol valued at N11 billion, out of over 100 million litres which it took,’’ he disclosed.
He stated that NNPC had set up two committees to evaluate the roles played by some of its staff in the illegal evacuation of the products.
He added that one of the committees was mandated to review the corporation’s entire throughput policy in order to align it with global best practices.
According to the COO, as part of efforts to forestall a repeat of similar occurrence, a disciplinary committee is already investigating the level of involvement of staff with a view to applying appropriate sanctions.
“The second committee,’’ he said, “is reviewing the corporation’s policy and guidelines for engaging in throughput arrangements with third parties to establish control measures that can help avert a similar incident in the future’’.
On the impact of the product diversion on the supply chain, he said that the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, had approved an increase in importation of petrol to make up for the shortfall.