Fuel price increase not illegal, NNPC declares

By Adewale Sanyaolu

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said the recent changes in fuel price were done in line with the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) Act and thus not an illegality.

The NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Mele Kyari, stated this during a media parley with Energy editors/correspondents in Abuja at the weekend.

Kyari explained further that the PPPRA Act allows the NNPC to amend the price of petrol, adding that the fact that the country is able to recover its crude oil cost means that the PPPRA template and process allows that.

Kyari faulted calls by stakeholders that the deregulation policy of the Federal Government ought to be backed by legislation, saying there was already an existing law as contained in the PPPRA Act.

The NNPC boss clarified further that uprooting those provisions of the law and inputting same into the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would not pose a challenge.

‘‘So as it is today as regard increase in petrol price, we have done nothing illegal because there is absolute provision and backing of the law that supports the increase of petrol which is not by Executive fiat. So, there is no need for any further legislation. But for convenience and continuity, we can uproot the provisions as contained in the PPPRA Act into the PIB.’’

On COVID-19, he said the pandemic and the subsequent OPEC-Plus agreement to cut production has impacted the corporation’s plans and activities with regard to production growth.

He disclosed that despite the negative and untold hardship that COVID-19 has unleashed on the industry, the NNPC has continued to make remittances to the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) without fail since March when the pandemic broke out.

He said the development has led to several cost saving measures for the corporation in a bid to remain afloat to meet other obligations which included payment of salaries and other sundry expenses

‘‘But I can tell you that much has been achieved in this regard. We are just waiting for normalcy to return to the industry to unleash some of these projects.

In the meantime, we are investing aggressively in gas to take advantage of the energy transition and get Nigeria ready for the future in the face of the dwindling fortunes of petroleum liquids.

You may be aware of the NLNG Train 7 and other gas infrastructure projects such as the Escravos-Lagos pipeline system phase 2, Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) gas pipeline, Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline while the Integrated Gas Handling Facility in Edo State is billed for commissioning soon.

All these projects, according to him are aimed at ensuring that Nigeria takes its rightful place in the emerging global energy order where natural gas is envisaged to play a pivotal role.’’

He noted that the downstream operations are also experiencing an upswing with the introduction of Operation White which has helped in streamlining petroleum products importation, supply and distribution across the country.

‘’I can assure you that the arrangement we have in place to sustain fuel supply across the country is solid and we are sure of maintaining zero fuel queues throughout the Christmas and New Year festive season into 2021

Even though gasoline price is as high as N464/litre in Niger and more than double our N160/litre range in most west African countries (see attached), we would continue to ensure Nigerians benefit from lowest comparative prices in West Africa and beyond.’’

He added that the corporation is in the process of strengthening the products distribution system by revamping the pipeline network through a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) model whose process is already at an advanced stage.

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