BY EMEKA EJERE

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has warned depot owners against the hoarding of petroleum products in their facilities across the country.

DPR was reacting to the reported appearance of queues at some filling stations across the country, which could be a result of artificial scarcity created by the depot owners and some retail marketers.

This warning was issued by the Director/Chief Executive of DPR, Mr Sarki Auwalu, in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos, according to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Auwalu, in his statement, noted that the warning had become imperative following reports received by the agency on the unwholesome activities of some depot owners who have created artificial scarcity by hoarding products in some parts of the country.

Their illegal activities could be to ultimately help achieve their agenda of driving up the price of these petroleum products.

While pointing out that the nefarious activities of these depot owners is causing untold hardship to Nigerians, Auwalu said that from available records, there was product sufficiency in the country and that there was no need for such practices by these group of unpatriotic citizens.

The DPR boss emphasized that as the agency saddled with the responsibility of issuing licenses to all oil and gas facilities in the country, it would not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions on any depot found wanting in this regard.

He said that the agency had set up a special task force to intensify surveillance and monitoring of all depots to check this anomaly and also noted that DPR would continue to provide its regulatory focus of quality, quantity, integrity, and safety (QQIS) for the effective operations of the downstream sector.

Nigeria relies on crude oil for about 50 per cent of government revenues and over 90 per cent of export earnings, with rising oil price meaning increased revenue. Ironically, rising oil price also translates to increased cost of petroleum products as the country depends heavily on imports due to a lack of domestic refining.

The rise in the global price of crude oil to over $63 per barrel has led to a lot of uncertainty in the downstream sector of the oil industry as petrol marketers had expected an increase in the pump price of the product since the federal government had earlier removed petrol subsidy.

Some oil marketers had directed their members to sell at increased prices for the product even with no official confirmation or approval from the federal government to that effect.