By Bassey Udo
Long Petrol queues, which have become a common feature in Abuja and its environs since last week, grew longer by the day following reports about the withdrawal from distribution of some volumes of imported petroleum products found to have been contaminated.
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, the regulatory agency in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, announced on Tuesday that following the discovery of the contaminated volume of petroleum products, it resolved to mop up and withdraw it from further distribution to consumers in view of the danger involved.
A statement from the agency read: “The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority wishes to inform the general public that – limited quantity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as Petrol, with methanol quantities above Nigeria’s specification was discovered in the supply chain.
“Methanol is a regular additive in Petrol and usually blended in an acceptable quantity.
“To ensure vehicular and equipment safety, the limited quantity of the impacted product has been isolated and withdrawn from the market, including the loaded trucks in transit
“Our technical team in conjunction with NNPC Ltd and other industry stakeholders, will continue to monitor and ensure quality petroleum products are adequately supplied and distributed nationwide.
“The source supplier has been identified and further commercial and appropriate actions shall be taken by the Authority and NNPC Ltd.
“NNPC Ltd and all Oil Marketing Companies have been directed to sustain sufficient distribution of Petrol in all retail outlets nationwide.
“Meanwhile, NNPC has intensified efforts at increasing the supply of Petrol into the market in order to bridge any unforeseen supply gap”.
Despite the assurances that adequate steps have been taken to ensure sufficient stock of petrol was available for distribution nationwide, queues outside filling stations in Abuja and environs grew longer on Tuesday, as anxious motorists refused to take chances.
The same scenarios were reported in other major cities in the country as Lagos and Ibadan, as consumers panicked that the development could stir another round of fuel scarcity nationwide.
By midday on Tuesday, the situation at most filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory and Lagos remained rowdy and chaotic, as motorists and other fuel consumers scrambled to stock up as much volume as they could.
It was not clear as at press time how much volume of the contaminated products was affected and the quantity to be withdrawn as the agency incharge did not make that detail available in its statement.
But considering that the country was already facing days of fuel scarcity, following the recent decision of the Federal Government to reverse its earlier plan to withdraw subsidy on petrol, fears by consumers that the situation might worsen in the coming days would be expected, therefore the panic.