Buhari urges petroleum regulators to offer the best…Lauds PIA implementation

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By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja


President Muhammadu Buhari has urged regulators in the petroleum industry to do what is best for Nigeria, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, said on Tuesday.The minister, who disclosed this in an interview with State House correspondents, said the President also expressed satisfaction with the level of implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.

”The President is happy with the level of implementation of the PIA. A lot is going on, already the agencies created by the law are now in place.“The President charged us to ensure that we use our best experience to ensure that the industry is on track. Luckily for us, we have very experienced people on the saddle, both in the authority and the commission and the President asked us to go ahead and do what is best in the interest of Nigeria at all times,” he said.On the recent increase in the price of cooking gas in the country, the Minister said the President is worried over the situation just like all Nigerians.

He said although the price of the essential commodity is not regulated by Nigeria, some steps would be taken internally, to provide some relief, ahead of the yuletide season.“We must understand that cooking gas is not subsidized. It is already a deregulated commodity so the price is not determined by government or anybody here in Nigeria. Infact, gas prices a re determined internationally.

“The price of gas internationally now affects also the price of gas in our country. But there are some issues around Value Added tax (VAT) charges and other taxes on imported gas, which we are handling but of course while handling taxes on imported gas, you must juxtapose it side by side with the local producers of gas and if u incentivise the importance too much, you will also kill the local industry and also you don’t want to incentivise the local industry at the expense of the import because if u do that, you will not have enough gas produced within the country.“So these are the issues of balancing that the midstream and downstream regulatory authorities are handling but I want to assure you that we are quite concerned and the President also is very concerned; he is aware that the price of gas is high in the market and we are doing everything to see how we can bring down the price of gas, especially as the yuletide approaches,” he said.

The minister emphasised that the rise in price of gas is not peculiar to Nigeria because the same scenario obtains in Europe and other parts of the world.  On the transition of cars form the use of petrol to gas, the minister said government needs about six billion naira for the procurement of kits to convert the first one million cars as well as facilitate the procurement of equipment that will enable gas pump stations come on board.The minister also disclosed that the President has directed him to proceed to Nenbe in Bayelsa State for an on the spot assessment of an oil spillage there and report back.Sylva said the President is worried over the mater and says all must be f=done to address the problem without delay.Contributing, the Chief Executive Officer of the Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed said the marginal queues witnessed at filling stations in Abuja and some parts of the country were caused by the payment logistics in US dollars by depot owners but the problem is being rectified.“Basically, what happened is that some of the depot owners selling petroleum motor spirit above the official ex-depot price of N148, they are selling at N156 or N157.

The reason is that they are paying for their logistics like shipping and Port charges and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) charges in US dollars and they have to go to parallel market to source for the dollars and the differential between the official exchange rate and the parallel market is their reason for adding between nine and ten naira.

“But we had a meeting on Tuesday, 9th November and the heads of the Nigeria Ports Authority and NIMASA as well as other stakeholders were all there and it was resolved that NNPC excess capacity vessels would be chattered to oil marketing companies and they would be charging in naira and NIMASA and the Ports Authority will also revert back to their supervising ministries and get directives to collect their charges in naira rather than US dollars.

I believe with these, there will be no reason for the depot owners to increase their price beyond the official selling price of N148,” he said.