Equalisation Fund Management Board (PEFMB), in Abuja, yesterday said it saved N14.433 billion through Project Aquila between January and November 2013.
The Executive Secretary of PEF, Mrs Adefunke Kasali, made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen.
He said, “Project Aquila is a high-tech electronic loading and delivery system introduced by PEF to check leakages in the system, as well as enthrone transparency and due process.’’
According to her, PEF has been able to check fraudulent activities among petroleum marketers and ensured transparency in the system through the project.
“The new initiative, also known as ‘e-loading’ ensures the delivery of petroleum products to the right destination.
“It has saved the nation a huge sum of money by curtailing the unwholesome practices of some marketers,” she said.
The executive secretary said the project had also been able to remove encumbrances that normally caused distortions in the supply chain such as the issue of prompt payment of bridging claims.
The Tide reports that bridging claim is the money paid to marketers to take care of logistics in the movement of products and to ensure uniformity in prices of petroleum products in different parts of the country.
Kasali said that Project Aquila, which had been successfully deployed in all parts of the country, ensured automated data capture and enhanced processing and payment of claims.
She said the project was still being applied in the dispatch and receipt of trucks.
Stakeholders in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry had continued to commend the initiative due to its on-line, real-time information management capability, she noted.
The PEF boss said “because Project Aquila provides accurate confirmation of all loadings and deliveries, petroleum products are now available in all parts of the country at government approved prices.’’
She, however, denied insinuations that payment of marketers were being delayed, adding that the initiative had facilitated the availability of petroleum products across the country due to prompt payment of claims.
“In fact, there is strong evidence of new investments in retail outlets and trucks in the past year, arising from prompt payment of marketers’ claims.
“Such investments have also encouraged job creation within the industry as envisaged by Mr President’s Transformation Agenda.’’
Kasali also refuted claims that the board was underpaying some marketers, saying that the PEFMB had been consistent in paying the right claims due to marketers.
This, she said, was in accordance with their capacity as approved by the Department of Petroleum Resources.
“Those who are complaining are those that the robust Project Aquila has blocked their old ways of “milking’’ the system and are uncomfortable with the new measures imposed to check past abuses,’’ she added.
Explosion: Stakeholders Want Replacement Of Old Pipelines
As part of measures to avert further pipeline explosion in the Niger Delta, stakeholders in the region have called for the replacement of all obsolete oil pipelines in the area.
The views of the stakeholders were expressed during a random interview conducted by The Tide on the growing spate of pipeline explosions resulting in wastage of lives.
Speaking during the interview, President of a pro Niger Delta group, Niger Delta coalition Against Violence, (NDCAV), Comrade Lekia Christian said pipeline explosions in the Niger Delta and most recently the nasty experience at Komkom in Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State were linked to leakages from broken pipelines that spilled out petroleum products.
He said people were tempted to stop the spilled crude and meet their waterlow.
“Pipeline explosion has become a recurrent event in the Niger Delta and lives have always been wasted in these sordid experiences. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government, through relevant institutions, to find a lasting solution to this prevalent issue. Most of the pipelines in the Niger Delta are old and need replacement; something has to be done as a matter of urgency to avert further disasters,” he said.
The NDCAV president also called for improved security and surveilance on the pipelines.
In his views, an environmental sociologist and lecturer in the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Steve Wodu, also blamed the sequence of pipeline explosions in the Niger Delta on obsolete facilities which, he said, constitute serious risk to the lives of the people of the host communities.
He said: “It’s unfortunate that most of the pipelines conveying crude oil in the Niger Delta are yet to be replaced despite the dilapidated status of the facilities. This is totally wrong and constitute big risk to the lives of the people. The NNPC and PPMC should embark on an overhaul of all oil pipeline facilities in the Niger Delta to address the issue of pipeline explosions in the area.
“The negligence of relevant institutions in maintenance of pipelines is an issue of critical concern as it affects the lives of the people negatively. This is a disservice and another worst form of injustice to the people of the Niger Delta.”
It could be recalled that the issue of pipeline explosions was also raised at the Senate plenary recently, following a motion by the Senator representing Rivers South East District, George Sekibo and three others following the recent explosion that claimed lives and properties at Oyigbo.
The Senate, in its ruling, urged the NNPC and PPMC and other relevant agencies in the oil and gas industry to find a lasting solution to the issue.
The Senate also called for a holistic review of all existing pipelines to ascertain the levels of functionalities.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rivers Community Shuts Down SPDC Flow Station
The people of Umudiaga Community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State have shut down the Ahia flow station, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on behalf of its Joint Venture Partners.
The community, which expressed its discontent with Shell through a peaceful protest, also gave one week ultimatum to the company to give electricity to the community or have its operations grounded.
Addressing the protesting crowd at the Shell facilities located within the community, last Wednesday, the Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman, Barr Emeka Ogbugo, said the protest was an expression of the community’s disapproval of the company’s continuous negligence of the plight of Umudiaga people.
He said: “The community has suffered for over 50 years despite the presence of Shell in the area. Apart from the one kilometer road constructed by Shell since 1961, there is nothing to show in the community in terms of development.
“Shell gave us electricity that didn’t last for two years. We have a flow station that gathers oil from other communities, yet our community is highly neglected in infrastructural and human capital development”.
He explained that several letters had been written to Shell to address the issues of electricity in the community, but such requests were turned down.
The CDC chairman vowed that the Shell facilities would remain shut down until the community gets a positive response from the company and demanded that the community should be connected to the national grid, rather than being given light from the Shell flow station.
In his reaction, the youth leader, Comrade Daniel Akpelo Wosa, accused SPDC of marginalising the Umudiaga community, in terms of employment opportunities, scholarship and other social amenities.
The Umudiaga women leader, Comfort Chukwu, who also spoke during the protest, urged SPDC to improve on their community relations policies by giving the people a sense of belonging.
Efforts to get the reactions of the SPDC proved abortive as calls made to the company’s Corporate Affairs Manager were not successful.
By: Taneh Beemene
Marketers Blame Terminal Operators For Hike In Cooking Gas Price
The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), has, blamed Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal owners and off-takers for the recent hike in the price of cooking gas.
Prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, popularly called cooking gas, had gone up by more than 30 per cent, with customers in some parts of the country paying as much as N5, 500 for a 12.6kilograme cylinder of the gas. About a month ago, the price stood at about N2,800 – N3, 000 for the 12.6kg cylinder.
Executive Secretary of NALPGAM, Mr. Bassey Essien in a statement in Lagos last Friday, alleged that the activities of off-takers and terminal owners (where the gas was stored for sales to marketers) was responsible for the rise in the prices of the commodity.
“It becomes necessary to bring to the attention of users of cooking gas, stakeholders in the industry and the government the level of exploitation that currently subsists in the pricing of cooking gas by terminal owners and off-takers,” said Essien.
“The Federal Government approved the allocation of about 350,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of gas per annum for local consumption through the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company and this has been distributed through the terminals and off-takers to marketers who eventually distribute to end users.
“We noticed recently that gas delivered to terminals and off-takers, which was being sold at N3,200,000 per 20 MT a week ago suddenly jumped to between N4,000,000 and N4,300,000 per 20MT at the terminals, ” Essien alleged.
According to him, the decision of terminal operators to raise the price of the gas from their own end has seen Nigerians paying more in recent weeks that they did a month ago. The marketers, however, maintained that the price structure from the NLNG has not changed.
“We dissociate our association from exploitative acts of terminal owners. It is like taking the industry and stakeholders for granted to the detriment of the efforts of the Federal Government at deepening cooking gas utilisation in the country, which has been yielding positive results, ” Essien said.
Essien said that with this development, many Nigerians would go back to using kerosene and firewood which had attendant health effects.
“A filling station which was selling 300 litres of kerosene a week has seen its sales increased to about 6,000 litres because people who cannot afford gas due to the increment are going back to kerosene.
“This has so many negative effects on the economy, especially as food sellers would have to increase the prices of their food or reduce the quantity not to run at a loss,” he said.
Essien commended the NLNG for its efforts in supplying gas to Nigerians and urged the company to improve on its performance to deliver gas to other coastal terminals outside Lagos to reduce the inherent pressure on the terminals in the South West.
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