• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

    Toxic fuel import saga: Conspiracy thickens, as Brittinia-U denies alleged sole liability

    ByBassey Udo

    Feb 12, 2022

    By Bassey Udo

    The conspiracy surrounding the roles of the four companies named in connection with the importation of the toxic fuel discovered last week thickened on Friday, as the company alleged to have been the sole importer of the adulterated product denied any involvement in the saga.
    On Thursday, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, identified the four companies involved in the importation of the premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, that was later found to have been laden with an over-dose of methanol.
    Kyari named the four companies to include MRS Oil Nigeria Plc, which imported the consignment brought into the country by MT Bow Pioneer; Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium in MT Tom Hilde; Oando PLC in MT Elka Apollon, and Duke Oil in MT Nord Gainer.
    All four consignments, Kyari said, originated from the LITASCO port Terminal in Antwerp-Belgium.
    Both MRS Oil Nigeria Plc and Oando PLC in separate filings with the Nigerian Exchange Group denied any involvement in the importation of the adulterated products into the country.

    MRS blames NNPC

    “As reputable companies, we will not associate ourselves with any activity that will be to the detriment of the citizens of the country.
    Brittania-U did respond to calls and text messages sent to it seeking their reaction to this report as at the time of going to press.
    In a statement by its Managing Director, Marco Storari, MRS said reports alleging that it was solely responsible for the importation and distribution of substandard and contaminated PMS in the country were mischievous, false and defamatory.
    “We want to reassure the public and all relevant authorities, that “MRS” is a responsible corporate citizen and will not be involved in the purchase, importation, distribution or marketing of substandard petroleum products in Nigeria,” Storari stated.
    However, MRS shifted the blame to the NNPC, which it said was the sole supplier of all PMS in Nigeria since the onset of the current fuel subsidy regime in the country.
    The oil marketing firm said under the subsisting fuel importation and supply arrangement, the NNPC, through its trading arm, Duke Oil, supplied a cargo of PMS purchased from international trader, Litasco and delivered with Motor Tanker (MT) Nord Gainer, which discharged in Apapa between January 24 and 30, 2022.
    From the imported consignment by the NNPC subsidiary, MRS said it, along with some other major oil marketers were allocated various quantities for lifting. They included OVH (10,000 MT), MRS (5,000 MT), NIPCO (5,958 MT), ARDOVA (6,000 MT), and TOTAL (10,000 MT).
    MRS said after receiving the products in its depot and distributed to eight of its retail stations in Lagos, it observed the product to be adulterated.
    Apart from ordering the immediate stop to further sale(s), MRS said the product was isolated, while steps were taken to analyze the product to determine the basis for its contamination,
    The company said its analysis of the product revealed a 20 percent methanol content, which is not the acceptable specification for fuel in Nigeria.
    Following its discovery, MRS said it immediately informed the NNPC, the Nigerian Midstream/Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), which also confirmed similar discoveries by other marketers.

    Oando distances self

    On its part, Oando PLC also disassociated itself for any imported and supply of adulterated or substandard PMS into the country.
    While claiming the PMS it supplied met Nigeria’s import specification, Oando, through its Company Secretary, Ayotola Jagun, said it was committed to working closely with the NNPC and industry to identify the root cause(s) of the contamination of the PMS supplied.
    “We want to assure the public that Oando as a responsible corporate citizen would not partake in the importation, distribution, or marketing of substandard petroleum products” the company said.

    Consortium accuses Brittania-U
    For Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, in also denying any complicity in the saga, accused a member of the consortium, Brittania–U, of being the sole supplier of the 90,000MT of adulterated PMS delivered via MT Torm Hilde between January 2 and 4, 2022 to their facilities.
    In a press statement on Thursday, the consortium accused Brittania–U of refused to execute the Service and Consortium Agreement submitted to NNPC in fulfilment of the award of the Direct Supply/Direct Purchase (DSDP) Contract, and opting to be deal ing with NNPC independently.
    Following the notice of the contaminated products, the consortium said it immediately notified Brittania-U via a letter dated February 3, 2022, as well as inform NNPC of the sole liability of Brittania-U.
    Based on the substantial evidence provided to NNPC and several declarations by Brittania-U to NNPC, the Consortium said Brittania-U should be held solely liable for the supply of the PMS via MT Torm Hilde.

    Brittania-U rejects sole liability
    In its reaction, Brittinia-U Nigeria Ltd. on Friday denied any wrong doing in the entire adulterated fuel import and supply episode.
    In a statement in Abuja titled: “Refutal that Brittania-U was among oil and gas companies that brought off-spec Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) currently in circulation’’, a newswire service quoted the company as saying it had no hand in importing “off-spec’’ products into the country contrary to claims by other members of its consortium.
    Apparently shifting the blame on NNPC, Brittania-U said the consignment of petroleum products the consortium received and discharged into its facility between January 4 and 19, 2022 through five daughter vessels were duly certified as meeting NNPC’s product specifications.
    Also, the company said all PMS from its mother vessel named MT Torm Hilde were discharged with relevant certificates of quality after laboratory analysis.
    Apart from the product the company imported adjudged lead-free, ethanol-free, water-free and suspended matter-free, Brittania-U said the sulphur content of the product was confirmed to be within the acceptable content of 0.0174, allowable by NMDPRA, as against 0.05.
    On the accusation by Emadeb/Hyde/Aymaikifi Consortium partners, Brittania-U dismissed the allegations as attempts to tarnish the company’s image, saying it would not want to join issues with them, as their claims did not relate to the issues at hand.

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