By Michael Eboh & Joseph Erunke
To eliminate NPA’s transport charges, others I’m not aware of price hike by NNPC stations — Kachikwu Senate demands daily oil, gas production records ABUJA—The Federal Government, weekend, said it would undertake a review of the pricing template for Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, to forestall a further increase in the price of the commodity. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stated this during a grand award ceremony organised by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, branch of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN in Abuja.
Meanwhile the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), has asked the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to henceforth, prepare and forward to it, the daily product records of oil and gas in the country. Minister of State, Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, The committee said the record of daily crude oil production must be submitted to the Senate every month. This will include petroleum industry activities, data on seismic activities, crude oil production, liftings, allocations, exports by destination, receipts, gas production, utilization, sales, transmission and exports. Chairman of the committee, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who led members of the committee to the headquarters of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, in Lagos on oversight responsibility, said the development would afford the Red Chamber the opportunity to have deeper knowledge of activities of the oil and gas sector in the country. Alaosoadura, who represents Ondo Central Senatorial District on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, frowned at perceived sidelining of the legislature in the provision of some information on activities by agencies of government, saying the trend must stop. Speaking on the pending review of pricing template, Kachikwu said it would help cushion the effect of rising foreign exchange rates and the dwindling value of the naira against major international currencies on the price of petrol. Oil marketers have N30 margin In early October, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had said in a session with Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, that fuel price would not be adjusted because marketers had been given N30 profit margin per litre. He had said: “I am telling you that the price of petrol will not be reviewed based on the arrangement the CBN and the NNPC have put in place to see to it that dollar is available to the importers of petroleum products and I am telling you that. What is that arrangement at this time, all the International Oil companies, IOCs, have been directed, based on the agreement between CBN and NNPC, that they should channel their dollars, oil companies and servicing companies selling their foreign currencies cannot go directly to begin to auction their money. They should channel their dollars through a mechanism created and operated between the CBN and NNPC where dollar is made available to marketers to import petrol. Foreign exchange template “At the time this programme started, the marketers were told that they can procure their foreign exchange at no more than N280 to the dollar and their price should not be more than N145 per litre. But in working out the price of N145 per litre, the template provided for nothing less than N30 per litre margin for the marketers. That template is available. By making N30 per litre available, even if the marketer does not find the product at N280, but finds it at N300, N305 or even N310, that marketer will still make profit though at a reduced margin. “That is the template that is currently in place and I am optimistic that it will work. We will see to it that even the IOCs are not compelled to sell at a fixed rate but they will sell at an average interbank rate of the previous day. So even today, some are selling at N305, N310, N315, the average cannot be more than between N305 and N310. I am saying if a marketer procures foreign exchange at an average of between N305 and N310, he will still make profit by selling at N145 per litre, that is my argument.” Inter-bank exchange rate The exchange rate at the interbank market stands at N305 to the dollar, making the template still relevant. But major marketers and Independent marketers are not importing, leaving only NNPC to bear the brunt of fuel importation. “There is no need for a marketer to contemplate price increase,” Mr Emefiele had said. But there have been reports of NNPC saying that the current price of N145 per litre is no longer sustainable. NNPC last month said it can no longer sustain the sale of petrol at N145 per litre. Recall that Labour last month warned against increase in pump price of petrol. Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, had said with the current exchange rate, it was no longer feasible to sell petrol at N145 per litre. TheNNPC official said at this year’s Oil Trading and Logistics Expo, holding in Lagos that “we have a very difficult business environment. It is impossible today to import products at the current market price, at current fixed foreign exchange rate. “There is no way today you can take products to retailers and sell at N145. It is not possible. If that is true and I believe that it is, because we all go to the market, why can’t we sell above N145? That is where legislation should come in.” NNPC sells at N145 Meanwhile, Kachikwu has said that he was not aware of the fact that the retail arm of NNPC had increased the price of petrol from N141 per litre to N145 per litre, the maximum price allowed by government under the price modulation mechanism, adding that he would consult with the NNPC management to understand the reason for the increase. “I am not aware that the NNPC has increased price. I need to look into that, it is a bit of surprise to me, because there are processes in doing this. If they have done that, it means they are doing it wrongly. Let me find out what the facts are,” he noted. Commenting on the petrol price template, Kachikwu explained that the review would eliminate certain charges that are attributable to the Federal Government and some of its agencies, so that the price can be retained where it is at the moment. He said, “One of the things I think we had hoped to do, which we would still do, before we embark on any price increase is to work on those templates. There are still areas that are within the government controlled aspects; payments to the Ministry of Transport and the rest; payments to the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA. “We are working on the possibility of being able to shift that out so that we can still modulate the prices within where it is right now. But I would hold a conversation with the industry and see how it is going.” Furthermore, Kachikwu explained that the meeting brokered between President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the Niger Delta was part of series of actions to bring lasting peace to the Niger Delta region, while he lamented that the crisis recorded in the region over the last one year had taken its toll on the country, its resources and even the sustenance of the oil industry. Also speaking, Acting Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Mrs. Sotonye Iyoyo, said while they celebrate the last 13 years of the PPPRA, they are aware that the challenges before it in attaining full and total deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector are daunting. It would be recalled that in September 2016, former and present Group Managing Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation expressed fears that the current pump price of N145 per litre was no longer feasible. Senate Committee calls for oil data The Senate Committee in stating its position, said: “The problem with us is that we don’t think the National Assembly is part of government. “I have always told people that it the National Assembly is taken away from governance, there would be no democracy anymore. In any other government setting, there is the executive, legislature and the judiciary. But it’s only when you have the legislature which will act as a check on the executive that there’s democracy. “So, whatever is worth doing for the executive must also be done for the legislature so that, at the end of the day, we will all understand and speak with one voice. “Some believe that it is only the executive that is running the government, no. It is not only when you come for budget that the National Assembly should be involved, it should be on a daily basis. “When you budget money for certain areas, is it only when we come here like this, maybe for once or twice in a year that we should know what you are doing with the money? No.” Speaking on the performance of the agency, Alasoadura expressed satisfaction with the performance of DPR, saying so far, it had lived up to expectations of people even as he said the agency was still grappling not only with funding problem, but also low workforce. “Well, we are very impressed by what we saw. A lot of rumours fly around about the seeming incompetence of the DPR or the seeming collusion that people think they do, but from all the efforts they are putting in to get the required results in information gathering, going technical or going ballistic, let me put it that way, from what we saw here today, I think they are putting in their best.” And I believe that in a few more years time, doing business in the oil industry in this country will be so transparent that even people will be able to read what is happening in the oil industry from their bedrooms, from their offices and that will be a day for Nigeria.” He dismissed the notion in some quarters that the DPR had over the years displaced incompetence in executing its constitutional mandate. Hear him: They are not incapable, I think what has happened is that people have made up their minds that they (DPR) are not good. “And with this, the DPR needd to come out more, let people know what they are doing so that this bad impression about them can be corrected, ‘he said, adding :”I too, had believed that maybe they were not doing the right thing. “ But again, when I compared it with the notion I had before I became a senator, that senators just go and sleep and every month, take money home, now that I don’t sleep at all, I know that the perception was wrong.” “From what we have seen here today,people’s perception about the DPR may not be correct. “And when they start coming out to let the people know what they are doing and how they are doing it, I’m sure the perception will change, “he further added. Alaosoadura said the Senate would seek for additional funding for the DPR, given that what was at its disposal was inadequate to enable it execute it’s constitutional mandate expected of it in the ongoing year. “ They have briefed us about their difficulties and I believe that the most important area there is funding. “If they have enough money, they can do a lot of things and without money, you cannot modernize. It is modernisation that is required. They have started it and I believe that the National Assembly will support them to ensure that they get to the level that they should get to. The committee, which was surprised to know that the agency had only 1120 staff in its workforce, promised amendment of the necessary existing acts to raise its workforce in order to enhance its efficiency. To this end, the committee requested the organisation to supply it with its nominal roll so that it can address the issue. Making presentation before the Committee, the Director, DPR, Mr. Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan,hinted that the agencies was actively working with a view to launching an innovation that would enable it monitor oil production, delivery to locations as well as monitoring of compliance in petroleum prices by filling stations from its offices. But he hinted that the organisation’s dream of achieving higher feats was not only being hampered by inadequate funding but also inadequate workforce. To this end, the committee requested for the nominal roll of the agency’s workforce with a view to looking into the issues raised. Ladan explained that the DPR ,as a regulatory agency of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria with the responsibility cutting across the entire spectrum of the petroleum industry, through the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors was doing its best to ensure it lived up to the expectations of Nigerians