Another fuel crisis looks set to rock the country as some vessels are stuck off Nigeria, unable to unload their cargoes of petrol and diesel.At least 75 ships with two and a half million tonnes of fuel are waiting for importers in the country to find the dollars they need to pay for the cargoes, according to ship tracking data and fuel traders.
According to reports by Reuters, some of the vessels arrived a month ago and their frustrated owners have almost given up hope and started to offer their fuel to buyers outside Nigeria.
The PUNCH, however, reports that a number of marketers who were given petrol import allocations for the second quarter of the year had not been able to source foreign exchange for importation.
Speaking with newsmen, an official of one of the major petroleum products marketers’ associations said, “I am not surprised that vessels are stuck. What I believe likely happened is that so many of our members were given allocations for the second quarter – some for April, some for May and some for June.
“But because they have not been able to source foreign exchange, the people will not deliver until they are sure of getting their money. A number of those that were given second quarter allocations have not been able to source forex.”
Mr. Obafemi Olawore, Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, said he did not know if some vessels were stranded due to lack of dollars or not.
Olawore, however, said, “In any situation, there will be challenges and some people will not face any challenge. Some are importing; some are not. But the most important thing is, ‘Is the product available?’ I think so. It means those importing probably are more than those not importing.
“Foreign exchange is a challenge; there is no doubt about that. But people will import. It is their business, and they won’t want their business to collapse.”
In a bid to break the impasse and head off more fuel shortages, the Federal Government raised the price cap for petrol by 67 percent, officially sanctioned importers to use the parallel market to find the hard currency they need to get cargoes off the ships and allowed any Nigerian company to import fuel.
The Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, had on Friday said, “The crux of everything we are saying borders on foreign exchange. Sourcing for foreign exchange is the key challenge. Marketers have been told to source for foreign exchange.”