The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) have called for the total deregulation of the downstream sub-sector of the country’s oil and gas industry.

The marketers under the aegis of IPMAN and DAPPMA said on Sunday in Lagos that this was against the backdrop of fuel hike and frequent scarcity in the country. They said that the deregulation of the sub-sector was the only panacea that could bring an end to the perennial problems inhibiting the smooth operations of the sub-sector such as the lingering fuel scarcity and the payment of petroleum subsidies.

Alhaji Debo Ahmed, the Chairman, South-west Zone of IPMAN said that deregulation of the downstream sector remained the best option to address frequent fuel scarcity in the country.

According to Ahmed, the deregulation of the sector will help to provide enduring solution to the recurring problem of scarcity of petroleum products in the country.

“It will help to tackle the corruption in the subsidy regime, address the functionality of the refineries, boost investment in the downstream sector and creates more jobs in the sub-sector.

“Deregulation will also help the sector and lead to normalcy in the nation’s economy.

“We appeal to all stakeholders and the citizens to give the reform of the oil and gas sector a chance.

“The current model of managing the sector has done a colossal damage to the Nigerian economy. “It is in the overall interest of the economy and the citizens that government should quickly deregulate the sector,” Ahmed said.

Also, Mr Olufemi Adewole, the Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, said that no marketers would import petrol at landing cost of N171 per litre and sell at N145 per litre at filling stations if the sector is not fully deregulated.

Adewole said that oil marketing companies had the capacity to import and sell petroleum products at reasonable and competitive prices if deregulated.

According to him, DAPPMA has for the past 10 years actively canvassed a complete deregulation of the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil and gas industry with its attendant benefits for the sustenance and growth of that vital sector of the economy.

“If indeed implemented, one of the key features will have been the complete removal of subsidy on refined petroleum products.

“We strongly assert that based on our experience with diesel, which was completely deregulated years ago, Nigerian oil marketing companies have the capacity to import petrol and sell same at reasonable and competitive prices if also deregulated.

“Currently, NNPC is the sole importer; there are issues of distribution because it is the marketers who own 80 per cent of the functional facilities and retail outlets in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Another marketer, Mr Mike Osatuyi, the Operations Controller, IPMAN, also stressed the need for the full deregulation of the downstream of the oil sector.

Osatuyi said that the pump prices of petroleum products have not been the same even when there was no scarcity.

“For instance, the petrol that is being sold for N145 per litre in the south west is being sold for between N250 and N270 per litre in the Northern area,’’ he added.

He said if the sub-sector was deregulated; it would bring in a lot of competition that government would only need to fix the price at which the cost of the product must not exceed.

According to him, the continued regulation of the downstream sector has its positive and negative impacts on the economy, but the negative effect is more than the positive.

“The subsidy policy cannot be sustained any longer. This is because the subsidy payment did not benefit the poor it was targeting, but rather it is benefiting the rich.

“The industry needs to move to the next level by increasing revenue and curb oil theft and pipeline vandalism,’’ he said.

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