CISLAC slams NNPC over importation of substandard fuel

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, on Friday criticised the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Ltd. over the importation of substandard fuel into the country.

Recall that toxic fuel was reported to be circulating across the country, causing damages in people’s vehicles.

Reacting to the development in a statement on Friday, the CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, described the incident as shameful.

Mr Rafsanjani lamented that the country’s inability to refine its own crude product and resorting to the importation of refined goods is worrisome and sad.

He said: “It is sad that Nigeria is the only member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that lacks sufficient local refining capacity and this issue of importation of bad petrol by a country that interestingly produces the highly desired Bonny Light Premium Crude oil, is a consequence of that import-dependence that has now manifested in a petrol scarcity and the usual sufferings at fuel stations that come with it.

“This is not to mention the health and environmental consequences of the methanol-laden product currently in the market”.

Mr Rafsanjani further noted there is a need for the government to carry out a thorough investigation and interrogation of marketers involved in the scheme.

“The issues of failure of government to inaugurate modular refineries, get the existing refineries to be fully functional and effectively discharge their regulatory functions to meet local demands for clean petroleum products, come to the fore.

“NNPC investigation revealed the presence of methanol in four PMS cargoes imported by its DSDP (Direct Sale Direct Purchase) suppliers namely: MRS; Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium; Oando, and Duke Oil.

“While the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) with the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) assured that up to 80 million litres of dirty fuel had been withdrawn, there is a need to interrogate the root of this outcome and effect necessary sanctions to prevent a re-occurrence”, the statement reads.

Mr Rafsanjani said there was a need to further establish “how responsible institutions across the importation and distribution chain failed to conduct quality sampling, shipped in products without quality auditing, got port validation by Customs, DPR, NMA, SON without audit, stored the products in tank farms without product quality audit, discharged to marketers without providing product quality details”.

He said: “The recent statement from the Presidency that Providers of substandard fuel must be held accountable, have become more or less a perfunctory response to all cases of systemic compromise in the country with no action to back it.

“Similarly, the Minister of State for Petroleum, said that the government would look into possible compensation for Nigerians whose automobiles had been damaged by the contaminated fuel. Without preempting these statements, we hope that actions will be taken to bring guilty parties to book.

“The Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) of the National Assembly needs to urgently investigate the release of adulterated PMS across the country, with a view to ensuring that culprits are brought to book and ascertain whether the Nigerian specification concerning importation, distribution and dispensing of the alleged toxic petrol in Nigeria overtime, complies with international standards.

“After decades of plunging huge sums into unproductive refinery maintenance cycles (the FEC approved the release of $1.5 billion last year for the repair of the Port-Harcourt refinery) that consistently recorded losses as the country grappled under the stranglehold of the subsidy scam, we cannot afford at a time when we are entering a new extractive sector governance era with the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Bill, to miss the opportunity to lend the deserved confidence and seriousness to this legal instrument, needed to guarantee public confidence for improved compliance with its provisions, as well as improving effectiveness and efficiency in delivering on its goals and objectives.

“The NNPC Direct Sale Direct Purchase Agreement in the light of the current development has to be revisited as there is an overall need to fast track the inauguration of the several modular refineries under construction, recommit to the responsibility of effective regulatory processes and issue appropriate sanctions for the regulatory lapses that have exacerbated this and similar issues in the country,” the statement concluded.

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