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FG forms a 14-person team to address fuel scarcity

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The Federal Government is holding meetings with midstream and downstream oil industry players as part of initiatives to build strategic supplies of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as gasoline, in crucial sites across the nation.

In addition to announcing the formation of a 14-person committee to find a long-term fix for the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products, it stated that the national strategic stocks will aid in tackling Nigeria’s ongoing gasoline shortage.

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On Tuesday in Abuja during the ongoing stakeholders’ consultation session on midstream and downstream petroleum laws, Ogbugo Ukoha, Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, revealed this regarding the strategic stock.

Speaking outside of the gathering, he said that the National Strategic Stock Regulations was one of the eight draft regulations that the authority had put together. He added that the NMDPRA and stakeholders were reviewing them.

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He declared, “We are required to establish strategic stock per Section 181 of the Petroleum Industry Act. Regarding the normal supply problems, keep in mind that Bayelsa and Lokoja experienced flooding a few weeks ago, which had a detrimental influence on supplies.

“Across the nation, we should have strategic stock. Despite the need for updated pipes, there is storage everywhere. Therefore, it is a priority that these strategic stock laws satisfy that need.

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“It takes trucks from the coastal districts three to four days to come here (Abuja), and if something occurs on the road, then you’ll see how it would affect the supplies in the Federal Capital Territory,” Ukoha continued.

“We had to travel to Niger State on Friday because three trucks had crashed across the Bida-Lapai and Agae road. To make sure those vehicles were released, we were there. But the majority of that will be handled by the strategic stock.

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“You can just recall some volumes from the nearby storage if you run into that kind of problem. Therefore, the authority is presenting these proposed regulations as being of utmost importance.

The midstream and downstream components of the sector held highly significant positions in the industry, according to the NMDPRA official, and the regulations being issued by the authority were crucial.

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There are eight draft regulations in this third batch that we are considering, and practically all of them refer to a specific link in the value chain, he said.

There is a draft regulation on gas flares, he continued. You are aware that the purpose of using flares is to maximize the power they provide as well as the income they generate, not merely to lessen or remove environmental hazards.

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The draft regulation that will cover penalties and enforcements is also included in this eight. You can see how things are right now because the authorities recently sealed seven depots due to excessive pricing.

Operators must be aware of the implications, and these regulations will enable us to enforce the norms we establish for the business with more vigor.

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Ukoha clarified that the regulations must adhere to established procedures as to why it might take longer for the draft regulations to become laws given how important they are to the oil industry.

There are procedures, he said. One of these procedures is first defined by the authority. The PIA is straightforward; we draft, propose it to the public, and then make it available for 21 days so that people can comment on it.

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“When we receive that criticism, we welcome them, like we did today, listen to their opinions, and then revise the regulations to take into account the reliable comments. Then we begin the formal consultation with the Federal Ministry of Justice to publish the rules.

Ukoha also issued a warning, stating that if depot owners continue to disobey the government’s directive about PMS pricing, the authority will suspend their licenses.

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Committee of Fourteen

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret. ), sanctioned the formation of a 14-person Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution Management, which he would personally head, according to the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

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The move, according to the ministry, was made in an effort to find a long-term solution to the nationwide supply and distribution problems with petroleum products.

It said the committee had the Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Chief Timipre Sylva, as Alternate Chairman, as the team would ensure transparent and efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products.

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“Other terms of reference are to ensure national strategic stock management, visibility on the NNPC Limited refineries rehabilitation programme and ensure end-to-end tracking of petroleum products, especial PMS, to ascertain daily national consumption and eliminate smuggling,” the FMPR stated in a statement.

To ensure sanity in the supply and distribution across the value chain, Sylva directed the NMDPRA to ensure strict compliance with the government approved ex-depot and retail prices for PMS.

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According to the ministry, the committee also consists of the Minister of Finance, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the President’s National Economic Adviser, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services.

Others are the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, and the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps.

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Members of the committee included the Chief Executive of the NMDPRA, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, and the Special Advisor (Special Duties) to the HMSPR. The Technical Advisor (Midstream) to the HMSPR would act as secretary.

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