Fuel Subsidy Gulps N774m Daily Due to Smuggling—NNPC
By Dipo Olowookere
Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Maikanti Baru, has raised an alarm over the huge amount of debt the agency incurs daily as payment for subsidy for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol.
He said on a daily basis, the state-owned firm incurs an under-recovery of N774 million in order to allow citizens of Nigeria buy petrol at the regulated rate of N145 per litre.
Mr Baru explained that the huge amount paid is as a result of the product being smuggled from Nigeria to other neighbouring countries like Benin Republic, Niger Republic, Ghana, Cameroon and others, where fuel is sold higher than N145 per litre.
According to him, the smuggling the commodity to these countries was made possible with the proliferation of fuel stations in communities with international land and coastal borders across the country, making it difficult to sanitize the fuel supply and distribution matrix in the country.
Leading a top management team of the corporation on a visit to the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Mr Hameed Ali, the GMD said he got his information from detailed study conducted by NNPC.
He said that the activities of the smugglers had led to recent observed abnormal surge in the evacuation of petrol from less than 35 million litres per day to more than 60 million litres per day which is in sharp contrast with established national consumption pattern.
Providing a detailed presentation of the findings, the NNPC GMD informed that 16 states, having amongst them 61 Local Government Areas with border communities, account for 2,201 registered fuel stations.
The fuel tank, he noted, had a combined capacity of 144 million litres of petrol, while eight states with coastal border communities spread across 24 LGAs amongst the states account for 866 registered fuel outlets with combined petrol tank capacity of 73.4 million litres.
A further breakdown of the finding shows that among the states with land border, three LGA’s in Ogun State account for 633 fuel stations with combined petrol tankage of 40.5 million litres while nine LGA’s in Borno State have 337 fuel outlets with combined petrol storage capacity of 21 million litres.
He said also that with one LG as border community has 235 registered fuel stations with total petrol storage facility of 19.9 million litres, while on the coastal front, Lagos with six LGA’s leads with 487 registered fuel stations with combined in-built storage capacity of 50.2 million litres.
Akwa Ibom with five LGA’s has 134 registered retail outlets with capacity to store 8.3 million litres, while Ondo State with two LGA’s has 110 fuel stations with capacity to store 3.9 million litres.
Mr Baru explained that because of the obvious differential in petrol price between Nigeria and other neighbouring countries, it had become lucrative for the smugglers to use the frontier stations as a veritable conduit for the smuggling of products across the border, saying this had resulted in a thriving market for Nigerian petrol in all the neighbouring countries of Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Cameroun, Chad and Togo and even Ghana which has no direct borders with Nigeria.
“NNPC is concerned that continued cross-border smuggling of petrol will deny Nigerians the benefit of the Federal Government’s benevolence of keeping a fix retail price of N145 per litre despite the increase in PMS open market price above N171 per litre,” he said.
Welcoming the NNPC GMD and his team to the Customs headquarters, Mr Ali said the NCS would work with the corporation to stem the tide of cross-border smuggling of petroleum products, noting that all hands must be on deck to ensure the economic survival of the country.
The Customs boss thanked NNPC GMD for the elaborate data he provided on the fuel supply situation, noting that this would enable the service fashion out the appropriate architecture to combat the menace.
He called on the authorities to tackle the issue of price differentials which is the underlying motivation for smuggling activities.