Mele Kyari, NNPC Limited’s Group Managing Director, said essential actions are being made to ensure gasoline availability across the country.
The discovery of imported poisonous gasoline, which is being cleaned up around the country, has resulted in a scarcity of petrol, forcing many people to panic buy at exorbitant prices.
After suing for liquidated damages against the off-spec product’s suppliers on Wednesday, Kyari told the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) that around 2.5 billion litres of PMS would be delivered by the end of the month.
“For this current scenario, I guarantee you that we have taken every essential action to restore supplies into this country,” the NNPC chairman added.
“We have placed orders significant enough for us to cross into March, with at least 2.1 billion litres of PMS in our custody.
“The situation you’re seeing today, I can assure you that by next week, it will vanish, all things being equal.”
On why inspectors did not detect methanol, Kyari said, “It is not part of their requirements at the load port. So, we didn’t ask them to declare whether it contains methanol because it is not part of our specification.
“Let me make it clear that methanol is not contamination. It is a regular additive to PMS. In China, up to 15 per cent of PMS contains methanol.
“On its own, it is not a contamination. The key issue is handling methanol. If we knew, we will not accept this. Anytime methanol comes in contact with water, it emulsifies, it turns into a different chemical.
“We didn’t know until our inspecting agents, on 20th of January to be precise, called our attention to the fact that they had seen emulsification in some of the depots and this may be a cause of concern.
“That was how we went ahead to check all the deliveries in our hands from all the four vessels that had already been discharged to confirm that all of them contain methanol.
“We quarantined all the volumes wherever they were in depots transit and we were able to track them. We were able to trace all of them and quarantine them.
“Not only that. We are also expecting several other supplies to come from other sources.
“We checked their origin and confirmed that five other vessels are coming from the same shipping terminal that loaded this and we rejected all of them; they did not sail into our waters.”
The NNPC boss added, “We did not test for methanol both at the load port and by the NNPC and the regulatory authority. I was very clear on this.
“What they (importers) are saying is that ‘what I brought met your specification.’ But what they probably also did not know is that it contained methanol and that methanol originated from the loading terminal.
“It is a legal issue, but it is nowhere sustainable because we have also filed liquidated damages which they can pass on until it gets to the originating depot.
“The liquidated damages can be a legal process where you may not even be able to recover your possession.”
Kyari, while reassuring Nigerians that every necessary step has been taken to ensure supply sufficiency said, “Let me tell Nigerians that we have a robust supply plan. By the end of this month, we’ll have about 2.1 billion litres of PMS.
“What we call panic buying is a situation where people who usually go the filling stations to buy N2,000 worth now buy five times that volume and those with more than one car will bring out all their cars.
“That is why you see all these cars in the filling stations and it creates supply disruption.
“We are assuring Nigerians that we have a robust supply plan and there is no need to bring out all your cars. Just buy what you need because there are plans to address this situation.”
Kyari expressed regret over the economic disruptions and hardship: “We are very conscious of the consequences that will come with it – the queues that you are seeing, the disruption of the economic activities that are very obvious. We are aware of this.
“We regret this situation and it is completely unavoidable. We didn’t see it coming. I apologise to Nigerians that we didn’t see it coming.”
A member of the Committee, Adedeji Olajide, said NNPC’s ignorance about the PMS containing methanol was not an excuse, adding somebody must be held responsible.
Olajide noted that “Somebody must take responsibility for this because if we don’t, somebody will in future say something similar to that.
“We are going to need a lot of documentation that you are not aware that such a practice took place.”
The Chairman of the committee, Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya, assured citizens that his committee would get to the root of the toxic fuel importation.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the sack of Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, for alleged inefficiency.
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