NSCDC arrests trucks with 469,000 litres of petrol diverted to Benin Republic
…NNPC raises alarm on rising cases of fuel smuggling
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday stated that men of the Niger State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have arrested eight trucks laden with a total of 469,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and their drivers in Mokwa, Niger State.
The NNPC, in a statement in Abuja, signed by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said the trucks were on their way to Babana, a border town between Nigeria and Republic of Benin.
The statement quoted the Niger State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr. Yakubu Ayuba, as saying that six of the trucks belong to one marketer.
He also disclosed that two of the trucks contained 66,000 litres, twice the quantity contained in a normal truck.
The NNPC also quoted Comptroller of Operations, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Engr. Abdillahi Isa, as saying that only one truck out of the eight had a genuine waybill to a recognized station in Babana.
He said the owners of the other trucks would have to explain their mission and destinations, stressing that if it was established that they were involved in products diversion, they would pay a fine of N200 per litre to the government.
The NNPC noted that this arrest confirms NNPC’s position that products hoarding and diversion were responsible for the fuel supply shortages witnessed recently in some parts of the country.
It said the drivers of the trucks who are currently in custody at the Minna Command of the NSCDC will be soon be charged to court for prosecution.
Meanwhile, the NNPC also raised an alarm over the sustained nefarious activities of some cross-border fuel smuggling syndicates and hoarders which have so far impeded its efforts to sanitize the fuel supply and distribution matrix across the country.
Addressing the Joint National Assembly Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, stated that if the activities of the fuel truck diverters and smugglers were left unchecked, it would be absolutely difficult to guarantee round-the-clock availability of petrol throughout the country due to the massive leakages wrought on the fuel supply and distribution network by the smugglers.
Baru noted that the sudden and unnatural shock in fuel consumption to record levels has over-stretched the Direct-Sale-Direct-Supply (DSDP) crude for product supply arrangement which was originally based on 35 million per day petrol consumption pattern.
He lamented that with the current unprecedented average daily fuel evacuation of 55 million litres since 1st December 2017 to date, it was imperative for the security agencies to close-in on the smuggling syndicates who were cashing in on the obvious petrol price differentials between Nigeria and neighboring countries to make illicit profit.
Baru explained that apart from straining the ability of NNPC to sustain the prevailing 100 percent PMS importation in the face of increasing cost, the current situation was impacting negatively on NNPC’s resources for servicing Joint Venture Cash-Call and other obligations.
He said to sustain adequate supply of petroleum products and national energy security, there was the need for the Federal Government to provide flush volumes in January & March, 2018, as well as create enabling environment for other oil marketing companies to participate in the importation of petroleum products.
He also noted the need to double supply in order to raise the fuel sufficiency template back to the 30 days threshold from the current 15 days by bringing in at least two vessels per day for 20 days.
He, however, explained that the NNPC would require additional funding outside the DSDP regime to achieve this.
Baru listed the measures put in place to tackle the prevailing challenges to include: Engagement of the Nigerian Navy, Federal Road Safety Corps and Civil Defence to improve truck movement; engagement of the Nigerian Army Engineers to remove failed trucks on the Jebbba/Mokwa Road which had hitherto slowed down truck movement to the northern part of the country; repairs of about 10km stretch of bad roads and sustained assistance to tankers among others.
In addition, he said the NNPC has deployed several tug boats to help pull out the grounded DPK vessel at Escravos bar which had made it difficult for PMS laden vessels to access the strategic Oghara products reception facilities and jetty among other palliatives.
He said in addition to the regular DSDP monthly programmed deliveries, the Corporation had imported 12 cargoes (nine in December, 2017, and three in January, 2018).
In his response, Chairman of the National Assembly Joint Committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, charged NNPC to resolve the situation within the next seven days.
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