Now that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited has blown the whistle on companies that supplied the adulterated fuel that cost motorists cash and damaged the cars of others, who pays the compensation? NNPC Ltd? Fuel importers? Or Fuel Filling stations ?
Should there be a class-action suit against the three parties jointly or severally? These are the knotty questions that continue to nag in a country where government officials and agencies are known to get away with impunity.
In the House of Representative, federal lawmakers went through the usual motion of debates, demanding the suspension of companies fingered in the importation of adulterated petrol into Nigeria. They, as is common with the National Assembly, passed the resolution to investigate the source of the adulterated product though the NNPC Ltd has made that information known.
Member after member expressed sadness over the development, wondering loudly about the systemic failures that jeopardised cars and cost Nigerians money.
Other Nigerians resorted to social media to continue to vent their spleen and wonder who will pay compensations
Two prominent officials tacitly admitted the negligence of its systems, with one, Mele Kyari of the NNPC Ltd talking about remedial measures while silent on the specifics of compensation.
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) says normalcy will be restored to petrol stations in Abuja and other areas in about three days following the resumption of loading in Lagos depots.
Mr Farouk Ahmed, Chief Executive, NMDPRA, made this known when he visited some petroleum products depots in Apapa and Ijegun-Egba areas of Lagos State on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the depots visited by Ahmed who was accompanied by Mr Adeyemi Adetunji, Group Executive Director, Downstream, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd., included 11 Plc, NIPCO, A.A. Rano and Emadeb.
Ahmed said the scarcity was caused by the stoppage of loading for some days when a vessel of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) imported into the country was discovered to contain methanol above the specified volume.
He said the technical team comprising stakeholders in the downstream sector had been able to identify, isolate and quarantine the limited amount of PMS affected by the methanol volume that was discovered.
Ahmed said: “We have gone round some of the depots in Apapa and Ijegun-Egba and they are loading.
“These products that are being loaded have been tested and are being distributed to Lagos and other Northern parts of the country.
“There is a vessel that just arrived with 39,000 MT, which would be distributed to the major marketers here in Apapa.
“Once they start loading, Lagos will be cleared in a day or two but trucking from here to Abuja and other areas will take two to three days.”
He noted that the incident had taught the authority a lesson on the need for extra due diligence in carrying out its regulatory activities.
“I will not make any excuses. The fact is that there were mistakes made because we received product that was off specification even though there was a surveyor that actually went on board and took sample.
“Because this parameter was not indicated, they didn’t capture that parameter.
“So it was a mistake but now going forward, obviously we have to balance all these parameters and components of imported products not only PMS but other petroleum products.
“The component that was in excess was methanol and the fuel was not toxic or something that can destroy the environment but it was a matter of how it affects machineries and vehicles,” said Ahmed.
He said the withdrawn products would be re-blended to ensure it met the country’s specification.
According to him, it will be tested to ensure it is of good quality and recertified before it is redistributed into the market.
The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, on Wednesday, explained how “adulterated” Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from Belgium got into the country undetected and the companies that brought it in.
Mr Kyari spoke about the problem which had led to PMS shortage and the emergence of queues in Abuja, Lagos, and several other states, at a late-night briefing in the nation’s capital.
The PMS, he said, had been imported into the country by four importers from Antwerp in Belgium with quality inspectors failing to detect the high level of Methanol it contained, first at the point of import in Belgium and at the point of arrival in Nigeria.
“It is important to note that the usual quality inspection protocol employed in both the load port in Belgium and our discharge ports in Nigeria do not include the test for Percent methanol content and therefore the additive was not detected by our quality inspectors,” Mr Kyari told journalists at the briefing.
The NNPC boss did not give the date of import but disclosed that the NNPC found out about the situation late in January.
“On 20th January 2022, NNPC received a report from our quality inspector on the presence of emulsion particles in PMS cargoes shipped to Nigeria from Antwerp-Belgium,” he said.
“NNPC investigation revealed the presence of Methanol in Four (4) PMS cargoes.”
He listed the companies as MRS, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, Oando, and Duke Oil.
MRS used the vessel, MT Bow Pioneer; Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium imported the product via the vessel MT Tom Hilde; Oando used the vessel MT Elka Apollon, while Duke Oil imported its PMS using MT Nord Gainer.
The NNPC GMD explained that the fact that the PMS contained Methanol was not detected by checks because the quality checks do not include checks for Methanol percentage.
He said, “Cargoes quality certificates issued at load port (Antwerp-Belgium) by AmSpec Belgium indicate that the gasoline complied with Nigerian Specification.
“The NNPC quality inspectors including GMO, SGS, GeoChem and G&G conducted tests before discharge also showed that the gasoline met Nigerian specification.
“As a standard practice for all PMS import to Nigeria, the cargoes were equally certified by inspection agent appointed by the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority has met Nigerian specification.
“It is important to note that the usual quality inspection protocol employed in both the load port in Belgium and our discharge ports in Nigeria do not include the test for Percent methanol content and therefore the additive was not detected by our quality inspectors.”
He assured Nigerians that the NNPC was sourcing additional cargoes to meet PMS demands and that “to prevent the distribution of the petrol, we have ordered the quarantine of all un-evacuated volumes and the holding back of all the affected products in transit (both truck & marine)”.
As for the suppliers of the affected products, the NNPC boss said they had been “put on notice for remedial actions and NNPC will work with the authority to take further necessary actions in line with subsisting regulations”.
▪︎ With Agency reports.