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We Are Investigating How Toxic Petrol Was Imported Into Nigeria – Sylva

How did the adulterated petrol get into the country? Whose negligence or compromise led to it?

These and other issues around the toxic petrol are to be unravelled after a probe by the Federal Government, Minister of State Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva said yesterday.

According to The Nation,  Sylva said: “There’ll be a major investigation to unravel everything and then let’s really get to the bottom of it before we can come back and tell you what is going to happen to the culprits.

“We know that some people’s vehicles must have also been damaged. That is also going to be taken into consideration in dealing with the situation.”

Sylva’s statement unsettled officials of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

The NMDPRA is a department in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, not a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited as earlier reported.

It is responsible for the inspection of the imported petroleum products.

“Those in the unit are jittery”, a source disclosed last night.

NMDPRA on Tuesday said methanol above Nigeria’s specification was discovered in a limited quantity of petrol in the supply chain.

It said the impacted product had been isolated and withdrawn from the market, including the loaded trucks in transit.

The development resulted in product scarcity in Abuja, Lagos and other cities.

Sylva, speaking with State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, said he met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday over the matter.

“I’m not in a position to disclose the identities of the companies, but there are some issues and we are actively tackling it.

“Nobody has, before now, checked for methanol in our fuel. It’s not very usual and this is the first time this is happening and NNPC is very much up to the task.

“I will also convey your question to NNPC and maybe NMDPRA, but we’re actively handling it and I want to assure you that the problem will be a thing of the past very soon,” he said.

An industry player wondered how the contaminated product could have found its way into the country as refineries produce only requested specifications.

The source explained that once an importer sends its country specification to a refinery, the product must meet that standard.

“Normally, if a country is importing from a refinery, it will give its specification of the product. And when the product arrives, it is taken to the DPR laboratory in Lagos for a test.

“It usually arrives in Lagos by the mother basin in the high sea, from where smaller vessels collect.

“Once it comes to the depot, the DPR tests the product. DPR has to do a water test and a purity test as to whether the chemical is okay for Nigeria’s standard.

“People realised that this particular one was adulterated when motorists started using it.”

The scarcity caused by the toxic petrol withdrawal extended to Oyo and Osun states yesterday.

There were queues in many petrol stations in Ibadan, the Oyo capital, and Osogbo, the Osun capital, and environs.

But the NMDPRA said Nigeria currently has 20 days of petrol sufficiency and that there was no need for panic buying.

The department said it was also working round the clock with other stakeholders to address the issue of substandard PMS.

NMDPRA Chief Executive Mr Farouk Ahmed, in a meeting with downstream industry stakeholders in Lagos, said: “I am happy to say that loading has been going on in most of the depots because we have been able to identify, isolate and quarantine the limited amount of gasoline that was affected by the methanol volume that was discovered.

“We have vessels that have arrived in the country recently. At least six arrived in the last few days ordered by the NNPC carrying a total volume of close to 300 million litres just to close the gap created by those vessels we have withdrawn from the system.

“All in all, as of today (yesterday), we have about 20 days sufficiency of PMS in the country.

“Our ideal days of sufficiency are 30 but the withdrawal of the vessel created the gap in our 30 days sufficiency.

“Again, with aggressive importation by the NNPC, this will be closed in a few days from the data we got from the NNPC’s import programme.

“Loading is also ongoing in most of the depots that have confirmed spec products so there is no need for panic. Hopefully, by tomorrow (today) or early Friday, Lagos will be cleared.”

According to him, a 9,000MT vessel was about to discharge at the Apapa Port, which would be providing PMS to major marketers including OVH Energy, TotalEnergies, 11 Plc, ConOil and Ardova Plc.

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) confirmed the sale of adulterated petrol in some service outlets in the Southeast.

The Chairman of IPMAN, Enugu Depot Community, Mr Chinedu Anyaso, whose zone covers Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states, said the development had been communicated to the headquarters of the association.

Many vehicle ranges are believed to have been damaged by the toxic fuel.

“We have received complaints about the sale of bad petrol within Enugu Zone for about two weeks now.

“We have escalated the information to our zonal and national secretariats, which are already talking with the NNPC.

“On our part, we have tried to protect customers by directing our members to stop selling such product until it is tested and approved by the regulatory agencies,” Anyaso said.

IPMAN has also directed its members to suspend the distribution of the toxic petrol.

Its National Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi, told The Nation: “We have told our marketers to stop buying from the depots until they get the one that doesn’t have methanol.”

More petrol stations in Abuja sold the petrol yesterday compared to the previous day, but black marketers were seen selling on roadsides.

The retail outlets that sold had very long queues that obstructed traffic flow on major roads.

The contaminated fuel was brought in by Duke Oil, a trading arm of the NNPC Limited.

Duke Oil had supplied a cargo of petrol purchased from an international trader, Litasco, which was delivered in Motor Tanker (MT) Nord Gainer.

The vessel, carrying about 50, 000 metric tons of petrol or 100 million litres discharged in the Lagos port between January 24 and 30.

It was learnt that from this vessel, some major oil marketers such as OHV, MRS, NIPCO, Ardova and Total got a combined 36.958 metric tonnes of the contaminated fuel.

MRS, in a statement, said upon receiving the product in its depot and distribution to eight of its stations in Lagos, it was observed that the product appeared hazy and dark.

An analysis revealed that the product had 20 per cent methanol, an illegal substance.

“As a Company, we are aware that alcohol/ethanol is not permitted to be mixed in PMS specification. We immediately informed NNPC, NMDPRA and MOMAN and it was confirmed that other members had similar experiences,” the statement read.

MRS said the adulterated product had been isolated and would not be sold to the public.

In Ebonyi State, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) arrested six persons conveying 90,000 litres of adulterated petroleum products.

The State Commandant, Terrumun Gbue, told reporters in Abakiliki that the suspects were arrested on the Abakaliki-Enugu federal highway on Monday night.


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