The Federal Government has given the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation till this weekend to clear petrol queues in filling stations across the federal capital and neighbouring states.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said the queues should disappear before the commencement of the 2018 Nigeria International Petroleum Summit.
According to him, it would be unfair to have international guests face petrol queues in the FCT when they attend the 2018 NIPS, which begins on Sunday.
The minister further stated that the ministry of petroleum and some of its agencies were working round the clock to ensure the retention of pump price of petrol at N145 per litre despite a landing cost of about N171 per litre.
He said, “As for the fuel queues that you see out there, we are working round the clock; the NNPC is also working round the clock on this. If you remember when it first started in December (2017), it was a lot more massive, but Lagos is largely fuel queue free and a lot of the state capitals are.
“Abuja is still struggling because of some logistics issues. We’ve instructed the NNPC to do whatever it takes to ensure that I do not bring visitors here next week and they will experience fuel queues. They (NNPC) will have to do whatever it takes to get this eliminated in Abuja and that is the directive I’ll be sending to the NNPC.
“Let them (NNPC) work night and day and put a lot more effort in trying to do this. But I can tell you that behind the scenes, a lot of meetings are taking place. This is because the fuel queue issue is both a logistics and a policy issue.”
The minister said for the queues to disappear, the government would have to address fundamental policy issues, especially in the area of pricing.
Kachikwu said, “So, we need to work out ways to see what we need to do to continue to sell at N145 per litre. The President is obviously very committed to keeping the price of fuel at the cost where it is. We don’t intend to increase the price again and so we need to work backwards, and this requires a lot of efficiency re-engineering.
“So, give a bit of time, be patient, but I do take your point. I will hate it for my colleagues to come here and see fuel queues happening and so my directive for the NNPC will be whatever it takes, get those queues out of Abuja over the period.”
On the falling cost of crude in the international market, Kachikwu said the government was not losing sleep over the development.
He said, “In terms of the price of petroleum products, I don’t think we need to be panicky about it. We are not ruffled by it and I know it has come down to around $60 per barrel now. Shale is going to be active. Whenever we are in excess of $65, shale becomes very active.
“But I’ve always said that two things need to happen. First, OPEC needs to just focus on itself and focus on what it needs to do and forget what is happening in shale. The second thing is that every OPEC producer must work hard to be a least cost producer. Because the truth is that if shale can be produced at $65, then there is absolutely no reason why we should be struggling.”