Oil marketers are fashioning out modalities to partner foreign crude oil refiners by December this year with a view to resume importation and further improve product supply in the country.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN)’s National Controller of Operation, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, who disclosed this in an interview with The Nation, however, refused to mention the foreign refiners’ names, which the Association is discussing with in Europe and other continents. He added that the group has decided to keep the matter to its chest pending when the deal is sealed.
The marketers, he said, begun the move to form synergy with notable oil refining companies abroad few months ago as part of efforts to improve importation of fuel and further prevent scarcity.
He said the issue has reached advanced stage as IPMAN representatives and other marketers have met with officials of foreign oil refining firms on the issue.
Osatuyi said: “Discussions on the issue of firming up relationship that would result in importation of crude into the country have reached a critical stage and marketers are not likely to suspend it. We (marketers) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with oil refiners in Europe and other continents and we strongly believe that the matter would get to a successful end. Nothing has happened now on the issue of partnering the foreign companies. However, marketers are looking at December, this year, to finalise the issue of partnering the refiners for growth.”
According to him, the right to give approval to marketers, who want to partner crude refiners abroad lies with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and not the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He said it is true that NNPC regulates activities in the oil and gas sector, but the Federal Government has shared the responsibilities of administering control of the sector to its parastatals for effective control.
He said while the government has conferred the right to supervise some key elements of the downstream sub-sector on the DPR; NNPC is still the only agency that has the power to either discuss or revisit the issues of fuel subsidies in the country.
“It is only the NNPC that can revisit subsidy issue through the approval of the presidency as it remains a very sensitive and key issue in the country for now. Without presidential fiat given to a governmental body to discuss the issue of subsidies, no agency can on its own do anything about it,” he added.
He said IPMAN plays a crucial role in the sub-sector as it provides about 70 per cent of the marketers in the country.
The issue, Osatuyi said, made the Association a force to be reckon with in the downstream sub-sector, adding that fuel supply would improve whenever marketers start importing fuel into the country.
He urged the Federal Government to address problems facing the marketers in terms of access to foreign exchange (forex) by ensuring that they (marketers) and other users are able to access forex for growth.
He said marketers would not find it difficult to get forex for importation once the problems in the foreign exchange market are addressed.
He said the country will have enough fuel for growth when marketers are able to access forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without stress.
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