Stakeholders in the oil and gas industry have called for the total deregulation of the downstream sector as a way out of the lingering fuel scarcity sweeping across the country.
A top official of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), who pleaded anonymity, Abuja on Monday, said that a multi-phased deregulation process was the only way out of the scarcity.
The official, who decried the lingering scarcity, called for adequate enlightenment and the provision of cushioning measures before the total removal of subsidy. “I think the full deregulation of the downstream sector will be the way out of the lingering fuel crises we are experiencing,’’ the official said.
He said the scarcity would continue until the first quarter of 2013 “if something urgent is not done because the demand for the product has over-shot supply’’.
The official said that the delay in the payment of subsidy arrears to most marketers had contributed immensely to the current scarcity as only the NNPC was currently importing the product.
He, however, said that for the deregulation process to be effective there was a need to resuscitate the country’s refineries, build adequate fuel reserves, tank farms and functional pipeline network.
Mr Obafemi Olawore, the Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), said the full deregulation of the downstream sector would bring about efficiency in the sector and signal an end to the perennial fuel crises.
He explained that most oil marketers stopped the importation of the product since the beginning of the year due to what they described as “discrepancies in subsidy payment’’ which they said was responsible for the current scarcity.
Mr Dapo Abiodun, the Chairman, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA), also called for the deregulation of the sector as a way of sanitising it.