Queues emerge as motorists engage in panic buying over uncertainty in petrol price

File: Consumers on queue to buy petrol at a filling station

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Long queues are clogging petrol dispensing outlets in various parts of the country following the publication of a new  pricing template released by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) that the price of the product may be jacked up to  N212.61k  per litre early Friday morning.

The queues have persisted despite assurance by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations (NNPC) and marketers that there has been no increase in the price of the commodity.

Anxious motorists are scrambling to fill up their tanks obviously not convinced about the assurance of the NNPC while some marketers are also hoarding the product either by keeping their outlets under lock or selling with fewer  number of pumps.

PM NEWS reports that some operators in in Agege, Oshodi and Ikeja areas of Lagos locked their gates and refused to sell petrol to motorists.  There were similar reports from Otta, Ogun State; Ibadan, Oyo State; Ilorin, Kwara State, and in other cities across the country.

But the Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Dr Kennie Obateru, attributed the queues to panic buying.

“NNPC stands by that statement that we issued on March 1 that we are not increasing the Ex-depot price in the month of March and that is what it is.

“There is no need for panicking and I can tell you from our own point of view that we will not increase the pump price of petrol and we are still standing by that March 1 decision.

“We have sufficiency of product in the country and there is really no need for the public to panic. Like I have stated, the ex-depot price for the NNPC is still at it is, it has not increase and it will not increase in this month of March,’’ he said.

No order to increase petrol price – Marketers

A survey by the News Agency of Nigeria also indicated that most petrol Stations are still selling petrol at the old price of between N162 and N168 per litre in spite of the panic buying.

In the same vein, officials of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN)  have also said NNPC has not asked them to hike the pump price petrol.

Mr Clement Isong, the Executive Secretary, MOMAN, told NAN that the association had received communication from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that there should be no price increment for PMS.

Isong said, “NNPC has told us that they will not increase prices in March. If you recall, they have made a statement on that earlier and have reconfirmed to us that there is no increment.

“They have also put it out on their social media handles.’’

According to him, queue noticed at filling stations in some states of the country in recent weeks is due to speculation that there will be price increase.

“What NNPC did was to take out the speculation by giving assurance that price will not go up in March and that killed the queue and demand went down.

“What they have done again this morning is to take out the speculation out of the market. They always have enough products,’’ he said.

Isong added that MOMAN had advised its members to continue retailing with the old price regime.

Similarly, Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, President, IPMAN said marketers had received communication from NNPC that there would not be any price increment until government and organised labour concluded their deliberations.

“There is no increment. Government is still talking with labour. What we are even concerned about is total deregulation of the market.

“There are other alternative sources of energy to PMS and we cannot continue to focus all our attention only on that product.

PPPRA Deletes Template

In the now deleted post on its website, PPPRA had fixed the pump price of petrol, at N212.61 per litre, for the month of March in its PMS guiding price template.

It said the template would run from March 1 to March 31.

According to the PPPRA, the pump price is based on the average cost for the period, Feb. 1st to Feb. 28th 2021, and an average FMDQ Importer and Exporter (I& E) Naira/US Dollar Exchange Rate of N403.80, the expected retail price of PMS for March 2021, stands at N209.61 per litre and N212.61 per litre.

This, it said remained the lower and upper band respectively. Giving a breakdown of the cost elements of the commodity, the PPPRA put the Expected Ex-Coastal price at N175.73 per litre, comprising Average gasoline price (FOB Rotterdam barge), and Average freight rate of N169.22 and N6.51 per litre respectively.

It also put the Expected Landing Cost of the commodity at N189.61 per litre, comprising the addition to the ex-coastal price, of average lightering expenses, Nigeria Port Authority Charges, NIMASA charges, jetty throughput charges, storage charge and average financing cost of N4.81, N2.49, N0.23, N1.61, N2.58 and N2.17 per litre respectively.

It further added the wholesalers’ margin of N4.03 per litre; administrative charge of N1.23 per litre; transporters’ allowance of N3.89 per litre; bridging fund of N7.51 per litre and Marine Transport Average of N0.15.

It noted that various margins brought the expected ex-depot price, that is the price at which the commodity is sold to petrol stations, to N206.42 per litre.

The PPPRA further stated that the inclusion of retailers’ margin of about N6.19 per litre, would bring the pump price of the commodity, the price at which it is sold to motorists, to N212.61 per litre.