Abuja - The Magnus Abe-led Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) on Monday expressed anger at the hardship being endured by Nigerians in getting petrol and kerosene at the fixed government prices of N97 and N50 respectively. This was during a meeting the committee had with the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke in Abuja on Monday.
Abe had explained that the meeting was called to review the situation in the downstream sector, the turn around maintenance and state of refineries in the country.
A member of the committee, Danjuma Goje (PDP-Gombe), said that several petrol filling stations across the country were selling fuel at between N105 to N115.
"There is no place in Nigeria where fuel is being sold at N97 except maybe the NNPC stations. Take a ride with me to Nyanya and Mararaba, you will realise that they are all selling N105, N110 or N115," he said.
In her response Allison-Madueke said the initial completion time-line of April 2013 could not be met due to some lapses that were experienced along the way.
She explained that when the maintenance of the three refineries was completed, production would increase to about 90 per cent, which would translate to 370,000 barrels per day.
She said the overall cost for the three refineries was about N251 billion while the cost of maintaining Port Harcourt refinery alone was N23.36 billion.
The Federal Government said on Monday that the Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries would produce at optimal capacity when their Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) was completed by October, 2014.
A representative of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr Thomas Olawore, told the committee that the actual price from the depots was N87.66K.
Olawore also told the committee that some security operatives at depots always collected money from marketers there by making the price of the product to increase beyond government approved price.
"There is no way that 5,000 people will be chasing a small quantity of products and there won’t be sharp practise.
"So at the end of the day, although you go home with the official receipt of buying at N87.66k, you would also have parted with much more money than that," Olawore said.
The Executive Secretary of PPMC, Mr Haruna Momoh, said the major problem militating against the availability of fuel in the country was constant vandalism of pipelines.
According to him, the cheapest, safest and quickest means of distributing products is through pipelines but if they are continuously vandalised, the problem of distribution will continue.
Momoh said PPMC was collaborating with security agencies to take care of vandalism so that products would be easily distributed and provided.
The committee had earlier accused the Secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigerian (IPMAN), Mike Osatuyi, of trying to hide the true position of the situation in the industry.
Osatuyi had told the committee that there were no problems in the industry as far as he was concerned; adding that everything was moving on smoothly without hidden charges anywhere.
The committee had advised the minister to evolve ways to ensure that transactions in the sector were digitalised to ensure more efficiency.
Members of the committee had complained that in their last oversight visit to the refineries, there appeared to be a lot of disorganisation as some marketers complained of favouritism.