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Confusion As 4 Oil Companies Named By NNPC As Liable For Imported Substandard Petrol Deny Accusation

Four of the oil companies accused by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, of importing substandard petrol have all in writing denied the allegation, thus creating more confusion in the drive to unmask shippers of the bad fuel.

In their separate publications, the four companies – MRS, Emadeb, Brittania-U and Oando – vehemently denied importing the high methanol petrol that is unacceptable in Nigeria.

Only Duke Oil, NNPC’s trading arm, also engaged in the Direct-Sale-Direct-Purchase arrangement with NNPC, has been mute about the allegation of importing the bad fuel.

Surprisingly, the NNPC boss has been silent about the renunciations by the companies he earlier accused of importing the toxic fuel. Efforts to speak to Kyari on the issue last night proved abortive.

A source told THISDAY that NNPC’s Duke Oil is the most likely source of the entire bad fuel and that Kyari was trying to be clever by half, by lumping it on some other DSDP contractors.

The source added: “You can see that he (Kyari) kept quiet immediately the denials of the accused companies started rolling in. He has nothing to say again. Kyari has been economical with the truth.”

However, before Kyari’s revelation, MRS had in a newspaper advertorial last Wednesday, in response to reports linking it with the saga, stated that it remained a responsible corporate citizen and would not be involved in the purchase, importation, distribution or marketing of substandard petroleum products in the country.

MRS said: “Due to the current subsidy regime, NNPC is the sole supplier of all PMS in Nigeria. Consequently, the NNPC through their trading arm, Duke Oil, supplied a cargo of PMS purchased from international trader Litasco and delivered it with Motor Tanker (MT) Nord Gainer. This vessel discharged in Apapa between the 24th and 30th of January, 2022.”

As one of the beneficiaries, MRS said it received the product in its depot and distributed it to only eight of its stations in Lagos.

In its reaction to the allegation, Brittania-U, in a public notice in newspapers yesterday, denied involvement in the importation of the off-spec petrol in circulation.

The management of Brittania-U exonerated the company from the ongoing controversy over off-spec Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in circulation in the country, saying its products that arrived and discharged during 4th to 19th January, 2022, through five daughter vessels, were duly certified as meeting NNPC’s product specifications.

“Brittania-U management is aware of the publication by Emadeb/Hyde/AYMaikifi consortium partners and while we do not want to join issues with these companies, we want to affirm that what they stated does not relate to the issues at hand,” the company stated.

It maintained that its record in the oil and gas industry, which covers the entire spectrum of upstream, midstream and downstream was impeccable, saying it had remained consistent and compliant and had never fallen foul of any infraction by regulatory authorities since it commenced operation.

Brittania-U stated categorically that it never imported off-spec products, as claimed in publications making the rounds, “as our imported products were all as per NNPC product quality requirements, so to state otherwise will be unfair.”

Brittania-U continued: “Our imported products from our mother vessel, MT Torm Hilde, met all NNPC/NMDPRA product specifications, and we’re duly cleared by DPR (now NMDPRA) in line with Appendix 1 of the NNPC-DSDP Agreement.

“All the PMS from our mother vessel, MT Torm Hilde were discharged with all relevant certificate of quality after laboratory analysis as it was adjudged lead-free, ethanol-free, water-free, suspended matter-free and had a sulphur content of 0.0174 as against 0.05, which is within the acceptable content allowable by Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Authority…”

It explained further that the quality certification and its recertification issued at the point of discharge by NMDPRA cleared all the vessels as being on-spec.

“Brittania-U is concerned that while its consortium products had been discharged at retail outlets in January, it was unwittingly now being linked with an issue of off-spec fuel-induced scarcity that began around Monday, the 7th of February, 2022.

“In order to clear our company’s name, we have made all the documents available, which clearly exonerated our company from the negative publication making rounds, which are all aimed at trying to tarnish our image of repute built over the decade,” the company added.

Also reacting to the allegation, Emadeb-consortium on Thursday exonerated itself from having a hand in the importation of bad fuel, saying listing it among those partly responsible for the importation of the off-specification petrol by the NNPC was misleading.

The group in a statement issued in Abuja by the Lead Consortium, Emadeb Energy Services Limited, immaturely urged NNPC to single out Brittania-U, an initial member of the coalition, which it claimed opted out of the arrangement instead of lumping everyone in the consortium together.

An analyst told THISDAY last night that members of the consortium had been operating independently since the signing of the DSDP contract with NNPC, and urged Emadeb Energy Services to speak for itself instead of trying to blackmail Brittania-U.

On its part, Oando Plc., in a rejoinder issued Thursday night and signed by the Company’s Secretary, Ayotola Jagun, denied any involvement in the importation of methanol-blended petrol into the country.

Oando stated, “Following media reports listing Oando as one of four importers that supplied methanol-blended Premium Motor Spirits (PMS) into the country, we hereby state that Oando did not import and supply PMS that was adulterated or substandard. The PMS supplied by Oando met Nigeria’s import specification.

“We are committed to working assiduously with the NNPC and industry to identify the root cause(s) of the subsequent 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.”

However, since all the companies mentioned in connection with the importation of this adulterated fuel (except Duke Oil) have denied culpability, the million dollar question on the lips of many concerned Nigerians is, who then imported this off-spec petrol that has caused pains and embarrassment to the government and people of Nigeria?

Where was the NMDPRA when this dirty fuel arrived on the high sea, landed at the Atlas Cove, discharged into smaller vessels to depots and finally made it to the market without detection by the agency that ought to be up and doing as a new creation of the law?

The subsequent stoppage of off-spec petrol sales by marketers resulted in the disruption of petrol supply chain and attendant scarcity and queues in some parts of the country, particularly Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and other cities, since last weekend.

The product has caused severe pains to unsuspecting users, with some now suffering damage done to their vehicles and generators after using the bad petrol.

Angered by the ugly development, the federal government has ordered a full scale investigation into the matter to unmask the culprits for appropriate sanction.

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