The queues have continued to persist. Cities that hitherto weren’t affected by the adulterated fuel have begun to see some form of scarcity. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) says the country will be infused with 1billion litres of PMS.
Petroleum marketers and oil dealers say they are tired of waiting for the new products resorting to blending the clean fuel with the dirty one. Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC appeared before the House of Representatives apologizing to Nigerians that they did not intentionally procure dirty fuel into Nigeria? And the dirge goes on?
To refresh our memory, the scarcity ensued because stakeholders within the fuel importation and distribution system had to stop the sale of dirty petrol which were damaging fuel station pumps and vehicle engines. A large consignment of imported fuel was identified to contain dangerous levels of methanol which is used to blend Premium Motor Spirit. While NNPC said the presence of Methanol was not an issue of concern, the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) argued that it was unsafe for use, but the damage had already been done.
It is sad enough that we don’t refine our crude oil despite the huge amount of reserves we have and the billions of dollars that has been sunk into the rehabilitation of the four refineries, it is even sadder that we have descended to a new low by importing of poor quality petrol and diesel, a price too sad and tearful for Nigerians to pay for our import-dependence. Nigeria is the only member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC that lacks sufficient local refining capacity.
It is a sad irony that Nigeria, which produces the Bonny Light premium quality crude oil, has to live with the consequences of importing poor quality refined products mainly from Europe, which the manufacturers would never sell to their local consumers because of inordinately high sulphur content.
International watchdog, Stakeholder Democracy Network, SDN, reports that Nigeria has some of the most polluted air in the world because it is a major dumping ground for bad fuel. Tests confirm that the diesel we import from Europe is 152 times in excess of the sulphur standard of Europe, while that of PMS is 40 times more.
Clean petrol should not contain more than 50ppm (parts per million) of sulphur, but imports from Europe contain as much as 3,000ppm.
It has also been found that because of the premium quality of our Bonny Light crude, even the diesel and PMS produced in the illegal bush refineries in the Niger Delta creeks are far cleaner than imported petroleum products from Europe.
If our refineries were working, adulteration of fuel would be mere isolated criminal cases.
Apart from government inability to ensure that its refineries work, it has repeatedly failed over the years in its regulatory function of ensuring the importation of clean petroleum products.
On December 1, 2016, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire agreed in Abuja to ban the importation of dirty fuels from Europe, but Nigeria has not implemented it.
We hope the coming on-stream of Dangote Refineries later this year and the inauguration of the several modular refineries under construction will drastically reduce the problem leveraging on our Bonny Light crude. Government’s regulatory agencies must wake up and do their jobs. There should be consequences when regulators’ failure exposes the people to avoidable suffering such as this. Failure of regulation is failure of governance, which is unacceptable.
We need a serious petro-barometer to measure the level of wastage and what we need to salvage for the sake of our children!