FG moves to unravel how adulterated petrol was imported

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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.

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 imported petroleum products.

“Those in the unit are jittery”, a source told The Nation 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It said the impacted product had been isolated and withdrawn from the market, including the loaded trucks in transit.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.”