After a few days of relief, fuel queues grew longer at some filling stations in Lagos and Ogun states on Tuesday, as speculations about an imminent increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit sparked panic buying.
Long queues of desperate motorists and other customers, which spilled onto the road and caused gridlock, were seen at filling stations on the Otedola Estate and Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
At some other filling stations in the two states, petrol was sold for between N120 and N160 per litre, while black marketers had a field day as they sold the product for as much as N300 per litre.
Our correspondent gathered that the recent attacks on a crude oil pipeline in Warri, leading to the shutdown of the Warri and Kaduna refineries, had affected fuel supply in many parts of the country.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had in April said the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company was producing two million litres of petrol per day, adding that the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company was also scheduled to start production soon.
“Port Harcourt is back in production; Warri is back in production; and Kaduna as of today is receiving crude and will soon be back in production. Lagos is easing off now from fuel scarcity and Abuja is doing the same thing, and once Kaduna (refinery) begins production, the North will see a lot of improvement,” he had said.
The Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Rivers State Chapter, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, said, “It (attack on the pipeline) is most unacceptable. It is very unfortunate because one had expected that everybody in this country should be worried about the economy; the way things are right now is not the way we expect it to be. There are many challenges ahead; our economy is in a bad shape. People are struggling to survive. And suddenly, there is a group of people emerging and blowing up pipelines.
“These recent attacks have meant that crude will not be supplied to the Warri and Kaduna refineries and so, there is going to be resurgence of fuel queues, which we have not even got out of.”
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo said, “We are back to square one. The enemies of Nigeria are at work. In Lagos, the depots have returned to rationing fuel.
“Some of the tankers have started coming from the far North to Lagos, because the little they were getting from the refinery in their locality has been affected by the recent attacks on the pipelines. The Warri and Kaduna refineries have been shut down.”
On the fears that petrol price would be increased, Korodo said, “Our attention has not been drawn to it. But I know the marketers have been meeting with the government. Maybe that is the only way out. I have said that the cabals are at work, trying to bend this government forcefully to their side.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is said to be planning a joint venture partnership with private investors to secure and manage about 5,000 kilometres of pipelines across the country.
This is coming as the corporation announced that $141.87m was recorded as total export proceeds in March, with the amount consisting of crude oil receipt of $88.36m, gas proceeds of $1.52m and miscellaneous receipt amounting to $51.99m.