THE Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, is set to clampdown on petrol stations across the country found to be defrauding Nigerians through price manipulation and under-dispensing of petroleum products. Olugbenga Koku, operations controllers, Lagos zonal office, DPR, said the department sees price manipulation and under-dispensing as serious breaches.
“We observed during our routine inspections of some retail outlets in the year that some marketers are yet to fully conform to some government directives. Some operators still operate with sub-standard price bill boards, even some choose to totally ignore the directive. These attitudes have given rise to suspicion of sharp practices by such marketers. Some operators even encourage the operation of fake DPR personnel in their respective outlets. Also, some marketers engage in adjusting their pumps to maximize profits,” he said.
According to him, the DPR is already meting out appropriate sanctions to marketers found wanting, adding that it would continue to impose necessary sanctions on erring marketers that violate the petroleum regulations. He further stated that the DPR was set to commence the process of licensing renewal for retail outlets across the country, between October 2013 and February 2014.
He said the DPR would not hesitate to suspend the operations of marketers that failed to meet its requirements. “The DPR will begin the normal process of renewal of licenses from October 2013 to February 28, 2014 for the 2014/2015 licensing period. We are therefore advising retail outlets to submit all applications for renewal promptly so as to facilitate early issuance of licenses. Marketers who fail to renew their licenses by February 28, 2014, may have their operations suspended.”
He added that the DPR intended to adopt stringent measures, which cannot be stated at present, but the sanctions will force the marketers to do the right thing. “We are aware that some of the faults are deliberate while some are technical. If we find out that the faults are technical, we can make efforts to correct them. But where the faults are found to be deliberately created to defraud people, we will clampdown on the marketer and impose the necessary sanctions.”
Expansion Through Partnership
SCHNEIDER Electric and Mikano International have agreed to collaborate in electrical distribution in a bid to increase investment opportunities in the power sector. The move followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, by the parties in Lagos. The agreement covers the sale and distribution of Schneider Electric’s low voltage products and distribution equipment in order to enhance access to the products to Nigerians and as well support local companies.
Under the terms of agreement, Mikano will sell and distribute Schneider Electric’s low voltage products such as circuit breakers, distribution boards, conductors, motor starters, control and signalling units as well as switches and sockets among a host of others, using its extensive geographical spread across Nigeria.
Mofid Karameh, chairman, Mikano International, said that the partnership was in line with the on-going transformation of the Nigerian power sector, and a window to position the company as a leading local partner to Schneider Electric. “As a forward thinking company, we are not unmindful of the emerging opportunities which the current transformation of the Nigerian power sector offers. The agreement will help us tap into this opportunity and strengthen our brand presence,” he said.
The partnership will also enable Mikano to grow its business portfolio and benefit from Schneider Electric’s products and solutions especially in the area of generator control panels and systems. Marcel Hochet, country president, Schneider, said the agreement provided an opportunity for both companies to collaborate and leverage their strengths to improve local access to Schneider’s products.
He said the partnership also demonstrated Schneider Electric’s commitment to developing and supporting local companies. “The agreement with Mikano will help our two companies deliver Schneider Electric’s quality power products to Nigerians, utilising Mikano’s geographical distribution spread across Nigeria. Access to our products means that Nigerians can enjoy the unique products and after sales service offered by Schneider,” he said, adding that the agreement further demonstrated Schneider’s readiness to support the development of local companies to enhance their operational capacity.
The Music Plays On
ABOUT seven indigenous oil exploration and production companies are jostling for three oil blocks put up for sale by Chevron Corporation in the Niger Delta. South Atlantic Petroleum, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria, the local-arm of London-listed Afren, and SEPLAT, among others, have been fingered in the transactions for which Chevron is expected to receive bids from prospective buyers on September 30.
Indigenous Nigerian companies, which already manage marginal fields in the Niger Delta, including Brittania-U, Vertex, Sogenal and Seven Energy, are said to have also shown interest in the blocks. According to a Reuters report, the companies are expected to submit bids for three oil blocks with total oil reserves of around 134 million barrels and five trillion cubic feet of gas. The mean value of the three blocks, according to the report, has been estimated to be from $500m to $600m. The winning bids would be around those levels.
Chevron had, in June, said it would be selling its 40 per cent interest in five onshore blocks. It also said it would sell OML 52, 53 and 55 to one buyer and suitors would have to pay 15 percent of the bids on September 30. Sources close to Chevron said the oil major would sell two other blocks, OML 82 and OML 85, in a separate bidding process. With this move, Chevron has joined Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s Eni and France’s Total in selling stakes in Niger Delta assets. A US firm, ConocoPhillips, is also selling its Nigerian assets to Oando Energy for $1.79bn.
Since 2010, the country has adopted a policy of encouraging more direct ownership of its oil and gas by Nigerians, either through the state oil company or local private firms. That has raised concerns among foreign oil majors that they may lose smaller assets if they do not sell now, industry experts said. Worries over oil theft, strained relations with communities living around oil fields and uncertainty over a stalled bill to overhaul fiscal terms have also encouraged the majors to sell down.
More Funds to Fight Oil Theft
AS part of the efforts to check the rising spate of oil theft in the country, the national economic council, NEC, has approved the disbursement of N15 billion to security agencies to protect oil installations in the Niger Delta region over a period of one year. John Jonah, deputy governor of Bayelsa, made the disclosure in Abuja, last week, after the national economic council, NEC; meeting presided over by Namadi Sambo, vice president.
Jonah said the council’s approval was sequel to a report presented by the ad hoc committee of NEC on Crude Oil Prevention and Control with all governors from the Niger Delta region as members. He said the fund would be sourced through a tripartite arrangement involving, federal and state governments and international oil companies.
“What we are trying to do is to ensure that we buy the necessary equipment for them to perform their duty in the areas that we have identified gaps. We also want to make sure that more personnel are available. The terrain is a very difficult one.” Jonah disclosed that with the pro-active measures put in place by the committee, there had been a steady increase in oil production. He added that oil production had stabilised at 2.4 million barrels per day as against the 1.7 million barrels daily production a few months back.
He explained that the ripple effects of vandalised pipelines were that most of the oil was allowed to spill into the ocean and subsequent stoppage of production. “Not all the crude oils are stolen when the lines are vandalised. When the lines are broken, if you try to pump, you pump into the sea, so, oil companies will not produce under that condition. Once you cannot produce you cannot sell it, but a lot of repairs have been made and we are making sure that the level we are now is sustained.”
Jonah also said that the committee was working out measures for prosecution of crude oil vandals and thieves in line with relevant laws.
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu and Vincent Nzemeke
— Oct. 7, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT