Oil marketers have ap-pealed to the Federal Government to effect quick payment of its outstanding N800 billion subsidy debts.
The marketers, under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), made the appeal in a joint interactive session with journalists in Lagos.
They urged government agencies saddled with the settlement of the payment to expedite action to save marketers from closing shop as interest on loans mounted.
The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) had in its October 31 resolution directed the Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office (DMO) to meet with oil marketers and other stakeholders on grey areas and report back within one week.
Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr Clement Isong, said that the unpaid debts had negatively impacted on their working capital leading to their inability to pay their banks and service providers.
He urged government agencies concerned to address the bureaucratic bottlenecks causing the delay in the payment process, adding that the delay had resulted in degrading oil and gas downstream subsector and hampered marketers’ business operation.
MOMAN is a downstream oil and gas group made up of six major marketers including Mobil, Conoil, OVH Energy, Forte Oil, MRS Oil and Total Nigeria Plc.
The MOMAN scribe re-assured government of their readiness to ensure availability of petroleum products across the country during and after the yuletide period, adding that marketers were fully ready to work with government on effective products distribution.
According to him, the major challenge the Nigerian downstream petroleum sector is facing is the non-payment of the long outstanding fuel subsidy to oil marketers.
“We appreciate the efforts of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council in approving payment, but the non-payment creates a significantly negative impact on the operational efficiency of the downstream sector of the oil industry, thereby placing a severe strain on its efforts to continually invest in infrastructure and raise industry standards.
“We hope that the debts will be paid in full to the oil marketers as soon as possible,” he said.
Isong disclosed that the debt owed MOMAN members alone stood at over N130.7 billion as at August 2018.
Similarly, Executive Secretary, Deport and Petroleum Products Marketers of Nigeria, Olufemi Adewole, said that the processes highlighted for payment by the government were inimical to the operations of their businesses.
Adewole said: “The processes they have highlighted is killing our businesses. Immediately the banks read in the media that the National Assembly had approved, they went to court, got injunction and seized our assets.”
Adewole said that 60 per cent of marketers have been forced out of business as banks have taken over their depots, assets and properties, due to their inability to pay back monies borrowed to import fuel.
He said many marketers were forced out of business, while others are struggling to survive due to government’s inability to settle the subsidy arrears, saying the development is threatening investment in the downstream subsector.
The DAPPMAN scribe stressed that while the Federal Government had earmarked money to clear the debts, the marketers were yet to be paid.
“The debt has had very adverse effects on our operations. I am aware of two depots that have been forcibly taken over by banks, because they got injunctions from the courts.
“They did so the moment they heard that the National Assembly approved payment of the debt to marketers. Unfortunately, as at today the money was yet to get into our accounts,” he said.
Adewole pointed out that the other challenge was that many of the marketers had laid off more than 90 per cent of their staff because of financial constraints.
He, however, said that government had promised that part of the money would come as promissory note and cash, saying the information gathered was that the government may pay only in promissory note.
“It means you have to go back and discount this promissory note in the bank. This means we are losing because the money has been delayed and this adds to the interest to be charged on our accounts.
However, the Debt Management Office (DMO) had, on October 31, said it has commenced the accelerated implementation of settlement of government arrears through promisory notes to oil marketers.
The DMO made this known in a statement issued in Abuja when it met with the Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector to discuss the issue of the outstanding payments to oil marketers.
According to the statement, the implementation is in line with the process approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Nigeria, Other Oil Producers Face Major Challenge – IEA
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies face stiff competition in 2020, the International Energy Agency has said, ahead of the oil producer group’s policy meeting next month.
“The OPEC+ countries face a major challenge in 2020 as demand for their crude is expected to fall sharply,” the Paris-based agency said in its latest monthly report.
Reuters reported that the IEA estimated non-OPEC supply growth would surge to 2.3 million barrels per day next year, compared to 1.8 million barrels per day in 2019, citing production from the United States, Brazil, Norway and Guyana.
“The hefty supply cushion that is likely to build up during the first half of next year will offer cold comfort to OPEC+ ministers gathering in Vienna at the start of next month,” it added.
While US supply rose by 145,000 bpd in October, the IEA said, a slowdown in activity that started earlier this year looks set to continue as companies prioritise capital discipline.
The IEA predicted that demand for crude oil from OPEC in 2020 will be 28.9 million bpd, one million bpd below the exporter club’s current production.
The recovery by OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, from attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure contributed 1.4 million bpd to the global oil supply increase in October of 1.5 million bpd.
“With plans underway for the Aramco IPO and the persistent need for revenues to fund the government budget, Riyadh has every incentive to keep oil prices supported,” the IEA said.
Saudi’s oil company Aramco, the world’s most profitable firm, starts a share sale on November 17 in an initial public offering that may raise between $20bn and $40bn.
It was the IEA’s last monthly report before the December 5 to 6 talks among OPEC states and partners led by Russia on whether to maintain supply curbs aimed at buoying prices and balancing the market.
PHED Warns Against Trading Under High Tension Lines
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, (PHED), has warned members of the public who are in the habit of trading under the high tension lines in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers States to desist from it.
The distribution company gave the warning in a statement signed by its Manager, Corporate Communications, John Onyi, at the weekend.
He said the warning did not exclude those who are planning or have already erected structures under the power lines.
Onyi explained that the warning was a continuation of a public awareness campaign tagged “Why you should not trade under the high tension lines” organised by PHED at Abulonma, Port Harcourt, recently.
The PHED spokesman stated that many lives haD been lost due to non-adherence to safety standards, adding that last month, a 14-year old boy lost his life when a line snapped on Abuloma 11kv feeder and rested on top of the building.
He noted: “A safe distance on 11Kv feeder stands at 5.5metres while 33kv is 12.5metres and not forgetting tolerance on 132kv lines at 25metres while on .415kv lines go for 1.5metres.”
Onyi expressed dismay that some members of the public have habitually jettisoned the safety rules, and therefore called for concerted effort, in enforcing the safety standards in order to save lives by the relevant authorities.
According to him, PHED has embarked on door-to-door safety awareness campaign on the dangers inherent in trading or living under the high lines especially those found to have contravened the safety standards.
He emphasised that the company would not be held responsible in the event of any electrical accidents under the high tension lines having repeatedly sensitised members of the public.
Youths Want Resumption Of Oil Exploration In Ogoni Root For Belema Oil
Thousands of youths from the four Ogoni local government areas of Khana, Eleme, Gokana and Tai, have staged a peaceful protest in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State seeking the resumption of oil exploration in the area.
The protesting youths, operating under the auspices of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) said the call for the resumption of oil exploration in Ogoni was imperative to promote economic development and create employment opportunities for Ogoni youth.
Addressing a mamoth crowd that gathered at Bori, last Friday, the National President of OYF, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana said Ogoni has continued to suffer denigrating poverty, despite setting the pace for a new environmental consciousness in Nigeria.
He said: “Before the advent of the Ogoni struggle, the Niger Delta was treated like a conquered zone by IOCs and their institutional collaborators who operated on obnoxious policies, but today a new and more intense consciousness on environmental justices has been introduced in the oil rich region”.
He recalled that during the decades of unfettered oil exploration in Ogoni which led to the devastation of the Ogoni environment, the youth were the most affected, as they were completely displaced out of economic activities and made vulnerable to social vices as a result of boredom and inactivity.
Comrade Yaamabana, said that after due consultation, “the apex youth organisation in Ogoni resolved to seek legitimate measures of alleviating their plight and bring lasting solution to the unmitigated poverty in Ogoni land, by calling for the resumption of oil exploration in the area, to avail the youth and other critical stakeholders of Ogoni, the opportunity to benefit from their God-given treasures and resources”.
He called on the Federal Government to issue operational license to Belema oil to commence oil exploration in Ogoni, noting that Belema Oil is an indigenous company that has demonstrated proven records of social engagements, technical capacity and effective host community relations.
The youth president also cautioned against the antics of “inexperienced and portforlio carrying oil firms” who are trying to enter Ogoni land through the back door, pointing out that Ogoni was not a dumping ground for experimentation.
The protesting youth, who carried placards with various inscriptions such as, “We want oil resumption in Ogoni,” “No Belema Oil, no Oil resumption in Ogoni”, among others, called for the allocation of oil blocks to more indigenes in the Niger Delta to develop the embattled oil rich region.
In his remark, the Divisional Police Officer of Khana, SP Bako Angbashim, commended the youth for their peaceful conduct during the protest and assured the support of the police to promote peace in the area.
By: Taneh Beemene
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