It was found out that despite the price hike, the corporation through its subsidiary, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, had not been supplying the commodity to marketers.
Many marketers of the product, popularly known as Dual Purpose Kerosene, said they had not received what they paid for since November 2017, despite making additional payments to the PPMC following the price increases.
Findings by our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday showed that some independent oil marketers paid N4.785m each for 33,000 litres of DPK in November 2017, which translates to N145 per litre, but had not been supplied the commodity till date.
Some of them paid an additional sum of N165,000 each in March 2018 in order to pick up the product, bringing the cost of the commodity to N150 per litre. But they still could not get the product.
On May 3 this year, the PPMC issued a circular with reference number, PPMC/CSD/UPM/0034, announcing a further increase in the DPK price and raised the cost to N179.83 per litre for ex-depot Lagos/Oghara, while coastal price ex-refinery was put at N168.94 per litre.
Additional payments of N984,390 and N335,610 were made on May 9 and June 6 this year by some of the affected marketers for the same product that was initially paid for in November 2017. This brought the cost of kerosene to about N190 per litre and made it the third time the cost of the product was increased within two months.
It was learnt on Tuesday in Abuja that the concerned independent marketers had yet to take delivery of their products from the PPMC despite the increases in price and the payments they had made so far.
They stated that at the point of picking up the product, they often got new information from the PPMC announcing another price hike and mandating them to make additional payments before taking delivery.
One of the affected marketers, who pleaded not to be named for fear of being victimised, said, “In the last two months, the NNPC has increased the cost of DPK three times. The cumulative increase on about four occasions is close to N1.5m. The price of 33,000 litres of DPK, as of last year November, was N4.785m, which was about N145 per litre. When you add the additional N1.5m, this raises the price per litre to about N190.
“The annoying part is that they have refused to make the product available for the past seven months. Anytime you’re to receive what you’ve already paid for as agreed, they will tell you that you can’t because the price has increased again.
“So, in the past two months, the NNPC, through its subsidiary, the PPMC, has increased the DPK price three or four times. We see this as a fraud and it is alarming!”
Another independent marketer argued that the increase in crude oil price should not be used as a reason to prevent dealers from accessing their products.
He stressed that the products that were paid for should be supplied first, adding that the corporation was free to inform marketers of a price increase in the subsequent round of purchase if need be.
He added, “We know the price of crude has been appreciating but that does not mean you should hold on to the products we’ve paid for. Release the ones we’ve paid for and inform dealers that there will be a price hike in the next round of purchase.
“Stop using the crude price instability as a yardstick to defraud independent marketers partly because of the dysfunctional nature of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria. This is not fair and should not be happening under a government that is perceived to be fighting corruption.”
When contacted, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, told our correspondent that kerosene supply was now coming from the country’s refineries on first pay, first load basis, because imported DPK was expensive and that the corporation’s representatives had been directed to stop collecting money from marketers.
He said, “We are supplying the market with DPK mainly from the refineries as imported volume is expensive. We have maintained a regime of first pay, first load from such refineries and have directed our sales reps not to take further payment for such product until old tickets are supplied.
“As you know, the marketers like to pay in advance for DPK and AGO (diesel), being their preferred products, and when the refineries are down, they start complaining.”