DPR Wields Axe on Fuel Hoarders

In a bid to check artificial fuel scarcity in the country, the Department of Petroleum Resources seals off some petrol stations hoarding the product in Lagos and forces others to sell at the regulated price

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Mar. 3, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

THE Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has swung into action in a bid to stem the tide of artificial fuel scarcity in the country. In Lagos state, the department has shut down some filling stations for hoarding petrol and compelled others to sell the product to customers.  The DPR sealed the petrol stations because of the refusal of their management to accept responsibilities for the offence and cooperate with its officials.

DPR officials who visited Capital Oil filling station along Ago-Amuwo Odofin Road, discovered that over 13,000 litres of petrol were being hoarded. Similarly, the Sabola filling station in the same area was sealed up  for selling petrol at N100 per litre, N3 above the official price of N97. The King filling station at Ago Palace Way was also shut down for the refusal of the manager to cooperate with DPR officials, who already got wind that it had petrol in stock but was not selling to motorists.

Rather than seal the Rain Oil retail outlet located in Okota area, which was caught under-dispensing fuel and selling from only two pumps, the DPR ordered the station to open all its pumps to the admiration of frustrated motorists. In another development, the Feroselina Oil filling station located along Okota Road, was caught hoarding fuel. The DPR team discovered more than 8,500 litres of petrol in the station’s tank, while its gates were shut against customers.In order not to worsen the artificial scarcity, however, the DPR officials ordered the station manager and attendants to commence immediate sale of the product.

Queue in Mobil filling stations in Lagos
Queue in Mobil filling stations in Lagos

The Conoil retail outlet located at Ago Palace Way was also caught hoarding over 19,500 litres of petrol. When confronted, the station manager said the outlet had no intention of hoarding the product but was forced to stop dispensing when the generator developed a fault. The DPR officials, however, ordered immediate resumption of sale of the product to motorists.

Adekunle Soyebo, Lagos zonal head of operations, DPR, said the objective of the monitoring  was to check hoarding and dispensing of petrol above the official price of N97 per litre and accused the marketers of creating artificial scarcity of the product in the country. “A lot of filling stations are hoarding fuel and we have enough fuel at the depot that can go round the nation, but most of them are hoarding it and that is why we have come out to force them to sell. We are going to penalise them for their action. This exercise is a continuous one until the situation improves. There are punishments for defaulters.  The DPR gave them licences to operate and we can revoke them,” he said.

Realnews investigations revealed that the petroleum product has become increasingly difficult to buy in Lagos and more so,  fuel in several filling stations sold for between N100 and N110. The queue started when the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, issued a threat to embark on a strike, if the ongoing divestment in the oil sector by some multinationals was not halted. Igwe Atuche, president, NUPENG, who deplored the ongoing divestment, had said that the situation had raised some concerns about the sincerity of government to refocus the sector and urged it to demonstrate its resolve on the issue by checking the divestment trend.

On Wednesday, February 19, the situation became worse in Lagos as more queues at the filling stations appeared. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, attributed the development to pipeline vandalism, a recent oil spill that happened in Ijegun area of Lagos and panic buying by motorists, who assumed that the nation might witness worse queues at the filling stations. Some oil marketers have blamed the worsening fuel scarcity on the recent oil spill at the Ijegun area of the state. One of them, who spoke on  condition of anonymity, said that the  fuel scarcity could be attributed to the aftermath of the oil spill.

“When the community alerted the NNPC of the spill, it was forced to shut down production in order to carry out repairs. It stopped pumping products. The products that are in the market were those already in the pipeline. Once the valves were shut off, repairs began in order to restore the pipeline back to order. When the marketers discovered what has happened, they started hoarding products because they are not sure when or where they would get products to buy. That hoarding of products is what is manifesting today as fuel scarcity. But that would soon end because once the NNPC starts pumping again, we can assure you that petroleum products would be back in the market,” he said.

Meanwhile, Omar Farouk Ibrahim, acting group general manager, group public affairs division, NNPC, confirmed that  there was pipeline vandalism at Akute in Lagos and Ogere in Ogun State, which created distribution problem for petrol. “We had a challenge of pipeline vandalism at Akute and Ogere. Some people who are aware of this started panic buying with the fear that it will create scarcity. But we have enough stock of the product. So, there should not be fear of shortage of the product. Already, we have started pumping the product from Mosimi line and Altas Cove line. By tomorrow, all depots will get fuel. We believe that the filling stations will get enough fuel and everything will be over,” he said.