Independent oil marketers are not fully back into the business of importing petrol due to their inability to access foreign exchange.
Dealers stated that since the downstream oil sector was deregulated in March this year, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had remained the major importer of PMS into the country.
It was gathered that although some big players made imports in previous months, a large majority of marketers had yet to resume petrol importation due to the inaccessibility of the dollar.
The international petrol business is largely run in dollars and accessing the greenback had not been easy due to the fluctuation of the naira against the dollar for months now, the marketers said.
Asked whether oil marketers had resumed the importation of petrol, the National President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, replied, “How can we import when we do not have access to forex?”
He told our correspondent in Abuja that independent oil marketers had always been ready to import petrol, not just only few major marketers and the Pipelines Products Marketing Company, which is the downstream subsidiary of NNPC.
“We have storage tanks everywhere and so we can import but the problem here is that at what amount are we going to access the dollar?” Gillis-Harry asked.
He added, “How are we sourcing it, are we to source it at the black market rate? Or are we sourcing it at the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) rate?”
When told that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency had said it would ensure that marketers access forex at the same rate with the NNPC, Billy-Gillis said many dealers had yet to receive any correspondence on that.
In June, the Executive Secretary, PPPRA, Abdulkadir Saidu, observed that transitioning to a fully deregulated market came with its growing pains.
He said the major challenges witnessed during the transition period which impacted PMS pricing include holding stock of products bought at higher prices.
Others include non-availability of foreign exchange for importation of petroleum products and slow depletion of stock due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These challenges are currently being managed,” Saidu had stated, adding that the agency was working with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the CBN to ensure that marketers had access to forex for petrol imports.
But the PETROAN president said hundreds of interested independent marketers across the country had yet to receive any correspondence from the PPPRA on the matter.
Gillis-Harry said, “We need to get correspondences to that effect and then we can get ourselves together and bring in products.
“We can even buy here and find a way to refine. There are a lot of innovation that we can do to save Nigeria.