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FG Moves To Reduce Trucking Of Petroleum Products

Posted: Dec 27, 2015 at 11:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

*Engages private security contractor for pipeline surveillance

*Refineries to get external ‘help,’ says Kachikwu

*To use third party financing for refineries repair

The federal government has moved to reduce road transportation of petroleum products with trucks from coastal depots and storage facilities in the country to hinterlands.

Speaking with journalists during his inspection tour to the Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC) on Christmas Day in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, revealed that government would trim down the country’s dependence on the use of trucks to distribute fuel and rather improve the use of pipelines for product conveyance.

According to him, in the bid to revive pipeline distribution of products, the government has signed up private intelligence firms to augment existing security arrangements on the country’s about 5000 kilometres long stretch of pipeline network.

The efforts, he said, would enable the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), push more products through the pipelines to the hinterlands.

He said that up to 4000 trucks laden with petroleum products ply through the length and breadth of the country’s roads every day to supply petroleum products across board.

This, he said, has continued to impact on Nigeria’s road infrastructure, amongst other impacts.

However, the National Operation Controller of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Comrade Mike Osatuyi, told The Nation that NNPC started massive trucking of supply of petrol to their members since December 24 to address the lingering scarcity across the country. He said over 300 trucks of PMS were supplied by NNPC yesterday.

Kachikwu , who is also the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said, “We are bringing in private securities to secure the pipelines. The key is to continue to maintain this and I think we are beginning to get the feel that we are getting some sense of what we need to do.

“It is a combination of many factors: communities, contractors and all sorts, it still makes it expensive but it is better than having to truck them through the roads.”

The Managing Director, Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Mrs. Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, however, corroborated this position to reporters at the Private Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja yesterday.

The PPMC, according to her, is now opening up the pipelines and pumping products via them to other different parts of the country.

She said, “There is no going back on the use of pipelines” to distribute petroleum products in the country, adding that the introduction of private security outfits in the pipelines’ security arrangement was beginning to yield results.

“Since the beginning of the fuel scarcity, what we’ve done is to manually track every truck leaving any of our depots either in Lagos; Warri, Oghara or Calabar.

“What we have done is to insist that our pipelines must work. We have an initiative with the private sector to help us secure and maintain our pipelines and that has yielded positive results almost immediately, vandals are being caught.”

The Managing Director added that “We have now started pumping all the way to Ibadan. Our target is to move to Ilorin and that will relieve bridging products from the coastal towns to the hinterlands of the north.

“We are also building a simultaneous effort in Port Harcourt, hoping that it will lead all the way to Markudi to Yola and these are things we have never done before for a long time. We want to have a more efficient way of distributing products nationwide.”

While giving brief details of the new security arrangement for the pipelines, Nnamdi-Ogbue said: “What we had done was that we had the Joint Taskforce who were with us but had not yielded good results and we have private people who told us that they have equipment and expertise to help secure the pipelines.”

“We had them come and present to a committee their proposals. They were about 15 but we cannot give you full details because these are security issues, but just to let you know that they are working.”

On the outcome of the arrangement so far, she said: “Assets used to vandalise and steal our products will be destroyed. We have also made sure that personnel at the pipelines are constantly changed to stop them from getting compromised.

She also said that the PPMC will from January 2016 introduce new tracking measures to avert instances of products diversion in the country.

“PEF is already doing a depot to depot tracking to calculate the mileages of tankers for their payment, however, in PPMC, we are interested in real-time tracking to help us detect diversion and we are expecting that we will fully launch this within the first weeks of January,” added Nnamdi-Ogbue.

Meanwhile, Kachikwu has said that the country’s four refineries: Kaduna; Warri and Port Harcourt would be given external help to keep them active even after repair works on them are completed.

“From the briefing I have gotten today, they are fairly close to reopening and producing. Over the next one week, we expect to see products out from here.

“A lot of these works, we have had to do with intensive manual labour with the staff who are here, largely because lack of funding has not enabled us to do the kind of holistic changes we need to do, that is still going to come to support them.”

Kachikwu further said: “The actual solution is for the refineries to work, if they work it is easier and when they don’t work, I have a double headache.

“We will shut them down, repair them and bring in external help. My assessment today is that Kaduna is up. Port Harcourt is coming up but not at the level where they would not need help. We will likely see both Warri and Kaduna not shut down, but we are going to work on mechanisms whereby they can keep producing on a part time basis.

“We are going to bring in third party financials to help us put money into them, get them holistically where they should be and then work out the payment structure. My position is that irrespective of whatever we do, these refineries must be brought back through financing to the levels where they should be, otherwise we are wasting our time,” he added.