The price of kerosene, used by majority of Nigerians for cooking, has risen to as much as N300 per liter in many parts of the country, with many depots in Lagos not loading the product.
Our correspondent gathered that the supply of kerosene by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation through its subsidiary, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, which marketers largely depend on for the product, has reduced in recent weeks.
Out of 36 depots surveyed in Apapa, only one, Index, was loading dual purpose kerosene as of Friday.
Strong indications also emerged that despite the recent liberalization of the fuels market, many marketers had yet to start importing kerosene as they continued to focus on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol.
In Lagos, a number of filling stations did not have kerosene to sell on Tuesday, while some of those that had the product were selling for as much N220 per litre, especially in Ikorodu.
With the non-availability of the product at many filling stations, roadside vendors were selling 4.5 liters of kerosene for between N1,200 and N1,400.
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said in a telephone interview with our correspondent, “It is not only kerosene; it is also affecting diesel. Diesel is now being sold at between N185 and N200 per liter as against N105-N110.
“The reason is not far-fetched; the System 2B of the PPMC has collapsed and that has been the system that has been maintaining the supply chain of the PPMC for a while. For the past one month now, the headquarters of the System 2B, which is Mosimi, has not been loading a single liter. So, they are not pumping to Ejigbo, Ibadan, Ilorin and Ore.
“Depots in Apapa rely on getting the PPMC products to their tank farms. Instead of the depot owners in Apapa to supplement the supply from the government, they are busy waiting for the PPMC products. The major oil marketers and DAPPMA are not bringing in diesel or kerosene; those who have access to the available supply are capitalizing on the scarcity to maximize their profits.”
Korodo said the prices of kerosene and diesel would continue to go up if they were not being loaded at the PPMC depots.
He said some of the marketers had refused to get involved in kerosene importation because of foreign exchange constraints.
“Government needs to revisit its so-called deregulation and ensure that there is a strict compliance by the major and independent marketers,” Korodo said.
A source, who is an official of an independent marketing outfit that has a depot in Lagos, said, “One major issue is that of all the depots in Lagos; I don’t think there are more than three that have kerosene now.”
The National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said, “Everything has to do with supply. If there is short supply, definitely, the price will go up. That is the problem.
“Marketers concentrate more on the importation of PMS. But now that the market has shown that there is short supply of kerosene, I expect marketers to shift attention to kerosene.”
The Executive Director, Supply and Distribution, PPMC, Mr. Justin Ezeala, had yet to respond to phone calls and a text message sent to his mobile telephone line as of the time of filing the report.