The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is eyeing a N150 per litre price for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol. This is as the embargo placed on price increase by President Muhammadu Buhari has worsened planned fuel price hike dilemma for the corporation.
Landing cost of PMS, checks by New Telegraph showed last weekend, has surged to N122.03 per litre, about N4 increase from the specification in the pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulating Agency (PPPRA).
This, further checks showed, was responsible for the N4 per litre price hike by NNPC’s mega stations across the country, which hiked their pump price from N141 to N145 per litre.
Some independent marketers, caught in the debacle who were selling at the N145 price before now, have adjusted their pumps to meet up with the market reality.
Further checks by this newspaper showed that seven foreign contractors, including Vitol, Petrocam and Northwest who participated actively in the importation of PMS, have abandoned the contracts.
“The NNPC top notch caught up in this dilemma have approached the president to explain the new market realities to him, but the president refused to hear any briefing on price hike,” a source at the presidency told this newspaper.
“The only option left on the table for NNPC is to push the prices at their stations to the highest point of the price mark.” The source added that the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Mainkanti Baru would still meet with the president next week to brief him on the possibilities of declaring huge losses by the yearend due to the situation.
“Major marketers like ExxonMobil have exited the downstream while Total is on the verge of its exit. Marketers are running at loss; they are not making profits as envisaged and some of them have adjusted their pumps to accommodate price hike.
In all these, the DPR is helpless because the N145 per litre price is still within the range,” an industry source added. The Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Department of the NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, had earlier hinted that the nation’s difficult business environment may make it difficult to sustain the current pump price of petrol.
He spoke at the 10th Oil Trading and Logistics Africa Downstream Week in Lagos, where he also said it was impossible to import products at the current market price, at current fixed foreign exchange rate and recover one’s money.
Marketers that are currently selling below N145/ litre, he said, are doing so because they are not the importers of the fuel. “Because we (NNPC) have taken the heat, and you buy from us you can afford to go to the market and then put a ridiculous price,” he said.
However, Kyari ruled out the possibility of increasing the pump price by the government due to the economic hardship in the country, saying, “it is impossible for this government to announce tomorrow that petrol is about N150.”
“This government cannot sustain it,” he declared, maintaining that this “is the truth. The people will not take that number. But that is why the suppliers now are not importing. It is not about the foreign exchange.”
“We are in subsidy regime absolutely, there is no way you bring product today and take it and sell at N145 and get back your money, and make profit. That is not possible. You can see some marketers saying that fuel is N138.
It is because they did not import. Somebody has taken the heat of the price.” Few weeks before Kyari’s submission, former and present Group Managing Directors of the NNPC had also expressed fears that the current pump price of N145 per litre is no longer feasible.
They said the amount does not correspond with the price-determining components of the commodity and the fluctuations of the foreign exchange rate.
The NNPC had, in its statement, said: “They (the GMDs) noted that the petrol price of N145/litre is not congruent with the liberalisation policy, especially with the foreign exchange rate and other price determining components such as crude cost, Nigerian Ports Authority charges, etc. remaining uncapped.” On the N145 per litre price, Kyari had said:
“We have created a niche market for the forex. We have ring-fenced all forex from the upstream such that those forex will be available at a fixed price; a price that the CBN has agreed. I am part of the people who are involved in making sure that this forex is available.
“I am part of the committee allocating those forex, and I know and I can see some of you here; we gave you forex, but you returned it. And the reason that was given was that the forex was not enough to import.
But the truth is that, that is not the truth. The truth is that if you go to the market today and buy products and land here, that you are required to sell it at N145 max. That is the main reason why people are not importing.
It is not forex; we have addressed the forex issue.” The PPPRA has, however, left its template unchanged for seven months. “Based on 30 Days Moving Average Platts Posted Price for: 23rd April – 23rd May, 2016, the Landing Cost is 122.03 per litre; Total Margins are 18.37; while Total Cost 140.40; and Retail Price Band is between 135 and 145,” the agency said on its website yesterday.
Meanwhile, the NNPC stations have increased the pump price of petrol at its retail outlets by N4 from N141 to N145 per litre.Though the new N145 price remains within the maximum price cap fixed by the Federal Government last May, this is the first time fuel at NNPC’s outlets will be sold at that price.
Hitherto, prices have been hovering between N141 and N143 per litre at NNPC and affiliate stations in major cities and even less at stations in the hinterlands.
The prices have been N141 in last few months until last week when it was raised to N145. Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Alhaji Garba Deen Muhammad, however, said the N4 per litre price hike by NNPC was interplay of market forces. “Marketers can sell between N135 and N145 range price regime introduced in May.
It is simply an interplay of market forces,” he said. The N145 per price at NNPC, a management staff of the corporation said, was to minimise the losses the NNPC will record by the end of the year through its monopoly of importation. Already, the revenue losses recorded by the corporation had hit N35.4 billion in two months, as profits woes rocking the corporation worsened.
The monthly financial and operations report released on the corporation’s website last Thursday showed that the losses were recorded in July and August.
The NNPC stated that the force majeure declared by SPDC, as a result of vandalised 48-inch Forcados export line was a drag to NPDC, its subsidiary, and the overall group performance.