By Bassey Udo
The consignment of contaminated petrol imported into the country was not detected prior to distribution because the quality inspection protocols employed in both the loading and discharge ports did not cover the test for percentage methanol content and additives, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, has said.
Kyari stated this in Abuja on Thursday at the end of a meeting with representatives of some of the oil marketing firm to provide an update on efforts to resolve the issues generated by the recent supply and discharge of methanol-blended petrol in some Nigerian fuel depots.
Giving details on how the bad fuel came into the country, Kyari said on January 20, the NNPC received a report from its petroleum products quality inspectors about the presence of some emulsion particles in the premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, cargoes shipped to Nigeria from Antwerp, Belgium.
He said further investigations revealed the presence of methanol in four of the cargoes imported by NNPC’s Direct-Sale-Direct-Purchase (DSDP) suppliers, including
MRS, which imported the consignment in MT Bow Pioneer; Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium in MT Tom Hilde; Oando in MT Elka Apollon, and Duke Oil in MT Nord Gainer. All the four consignments originated from the LITASCO port Terminal in Antwerp-Belgium.
Apparently ruling out any suspected negligent conduct or sabotage, the NNPC GMD who ddscribed the development as a `very difficult period for NNPC’ said due diligence was observed in the certification of the product quality at both the port of loading in Belgium and port of discharge in Nigeria.
“The cargoes quality certificates issued at loading port (Antwerp-Belgium) by AmSpec Belgium indicated that the gasoline complied with Nigerian fuel specification.
“Again, the NNPC quality inspectors, including GMO, SGS, GeoChem and G&G also conducted tests before discharge, which also showed that the gasoline met Nigerian specification.
In addition, Kyari said in line with the standard practice for all PMS importsbto Nigeria, all the cargoes were equally subjected to a certification process by inspection agents appointed by the Nigerian Midstream-Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDRA) to confirm their on-spec quality.
However, he said it was “important to note that the usual quality inspection protocol employed in both the loading port in Belgium and our discharge ports in Nigeria do not include the test for percentage methanol content, and therefore the additive was not detected by our quality inspectors.’’
Kyari reassured Nigerians of the resolve by the NNPC and other stakeholders in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to restore normalcy in the fuel supply and distribution across the country within a short period,
To prevent the distribution of the toxic petrol to consumers, the NNPC CEO said the company promptly ordered the quarantine of all un-evacuated volumes and the holding back of all the affected stock of products in transit (both truck & marine), whike the defaulting suppliers have been put on notice for remedial actions.
Again, he said the NNPC was working with the NMDRA to take necessary actions in line with subsisting regulations.