The federal government says it will impose sanctions on depot owners selling petroleum products above the approved ex-depot price.
Timipre Sylva, minister of state, petroleum resources, said this on Thursday in Abuja while briefing journalists on efforts to resolve the issue of fuel scarcity in the country.
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had said it would not lift products for depot owners selling petrol above the official depot price.
Sylva emphasised that some depot owners were preying on the current situation to increase ex-depot price.
“We are aware, just like President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement, that there are some Depot Owners who are taking advantage of the situation by increasing the Ex-depot price,” NAN quoted Sylva as saying.
“I can assure you that there will be sanctions for any of those depots that continue to increase the ex-depot price as approved. We are going to deal decisively with anyone who tries to take advantage of this situation.
“Its been a difficult few weeks; few weeks ago, we had issues of petroleum product shortage. I have already addressed that matter which coincided with the geopolitical tension in Ukraine and Russia.
“Prices of crude oil went up exponentially beyond levels expected. As you all know, when crude oil prices rise to that level, they can also affect the derivatives of crude oil.
“Nigerians are suffering because of the high diesel prices, including everywhere else globally.
“This is not peculiar to us at all. Diesel is a deregulated product and therefore when the prices go up internationally it affects the price also in Nigeria.”
The minister said trucks that could move petroleum products, that ran on diesel, were impacted and could not cope with the high diesel prices.
He added that though products were available in the depots, the trucks could not move the product because of the high cost of transportation.
This, he said, brought in another dimension to the crisis.
Sylva urged the public to report any fuel station or depot owner who tried to take advantage of the situation so that they would be sanctioned.
“If any deport owner increases price or any fuel station tries to take advantage of the situation, the public should report immediately,” he said.
If we do not get the report, we cannot know what is going on or sanction them.”
According to him, so far, the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), had been working tirelessly and the situation is gradually being controlled.
He said supply is being jacked up, especially that of Abuja.
“We are not resting; we share the pains of Nigerians,” Sylva said.
“We will continue to ensure that the situation is controlled. Queues are coming down in Lagos and other parts of the country. Very soon, this will be a thing of the past.”