Nigerian press zooms in on 14-man panel to end fuel scarcity, others

The report that the Nigerian Government is meeting with operators in the midstream and downstream oil sector as part of…

The report that the Nigerian Government is meeting with operators in the midstream and downstream oil sector as part of measures towards developing strategic stock for petrol in key locations across the country is one of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.The Punch reports that the Nigerian Government is meeting with operators in the midstream and downstream oil sector as part of measures towards developing strategic stock for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, in key locations across the country.

It said the national strategic stocks would help in addressing the recurring fuel scarcity in Nigeria, as it also announced the constitution of a 14-man committee to find a lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

On the strategic stock, the Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Ogbugo Ukoha, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the ongoing stakeholders’ consultation forum on midstream and downstream petroleum regulations.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, he explained that the NMDPRA and stakeholders were going through the eight draft regulations, which were the third batch, put together by the authority, adding that the National Strategic Stock Regulations was one of them.

He said, “Section 181 of the PIA (Petroleum Industry Act) compels us to develop strategic stock. On the supply issues that we usually have, recall that a few weeks ago, there was flooding in Lokoja and Bayelsa, and supplies were impacted negatively.

“We should have strategic stock across the country. And there are storage everywhere, even though pipelines need to be revamped. So this strategic stock regulations addresses that need, and it is a priority.”

 Ukoha added, “It takes three to four days for trucks from the coastal areas to get here (Abuja), and if something happens on the road, then you will see how it will impact on the supplies in the Federal Capital Territory.”

The newspaper says that the Nigerian Government has disclosed that it was in talks with investors on how to power Nigeria’s trains with electricity or gas following the astronomical hike in diesel cost.

The Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Ohkiria, in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, disclosed that NRC was calling on partners who generate power that will be dedicated to training operations to collaborate with the cooperation.

He, however, did not disclose if any company has shown interest but said the NRC was the main driver of the project.

“We are looking at how we can encourage partners who are into power generation that would be dedicated to training operations so that as we buy diesel, we also buy power from them. I think that is the right way to go.”

Speaking further, he said the power to be used to operate the train would be different from the normal domestic power used in the various homes to avoid people tampering with it.

“The power is not the same as the household power. The voltage is not going to be the same because if you leave it at the same, people will start tapping that current to feed their houses.

“The rail power has to be separated from the domestic power so that it can be left for what it is meant for. So, if you are using 230 volts in your house, we can decide to use 24 volts for train operations.

“We are looking at it seriously and we hope that we get enough interest that will buy into the idea we are selling,” Ohkiria said.

The Guardian reports that with only just five working days left to phasing out old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes, anxious citizens are at their wits’ end over who blinks first, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) remains defiant, insisting there is no going back on the January 31 deadline despite a motion by the two chambers of the National Assembly, asking the apex bank to extend the deadline for acceptance of the old naira notes.

The lawmakers’ resolution is coming after the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN) and a host of other stakeholders have expressed concerns and made appeals for CBN to extend the period for the currency swap as well as review of the cashless policy.

The House of Representatives and the Senate in separate resolutions, yesterday, asked CBN to extend the deadline by six months till July 31. The decision of the House to ask for the extension followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) during plenary. Moving the motion, Soli said banking and other financial institutions are struggling to cope with the rush by citizens to change their old currencies to new notes, just as the shortage of new notes is creating panic.

He informed his colleagues that traders in Katsina State have started rejecting the old notes.

Speaking in support of the motion, Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno), said CBN has been making efforts in his state to swap the old notes for new ones, however, the efforts are not enough to meet the deadline, just as activities of Boko Haram insurgents have shut down banking operations in most parts of Borno.

In his intervention, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the House needs to interface with the heads of commercial banks to understand the real situation.

Consequently, the House resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee chaired by the majority leader, Alhassan Doguwa (APC, Kano), to interface with the banks today and subsequently meet with CBN.

The newspaper says that Africa’s 125 billion barrels and over 630 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas reserves may remain in the ground unless the continent creates a local market for its hydrocarbon resources, stakeholders said, yesterday, in Abuja.

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and the current President of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), who is equally Equatorial Guinea Minister of Hydrocarbon, Gabriel Obiang Lima, expressed worry over the fate of Africa’s hydrocarbon resources amid energy transition and climate actions.

While calling for support for an African Energy Bank, as well as the development of local content across the region, Sylva said the efforts are already being made to create a market for Africa’s oil and gas resources.

Most economies in Africa, especially Nigeria, survive on proceeds from fossil fuels. The campaign against fossil fuels to save the planet has thrown the countries off balance after years of wastage of the earnings from the resource.

Sylva decried the drought in investment into the sector, adding that being the fastest growing population in the world, and an unimaginable prevalent energy poverty level across the continent, Africa’s energy need would continue to grow in leaps and bounds over the foreseeable future.

“While taking cognisance of the current global drive towards renewable energy, Africa will undoubtedly need to continue to utilise its abundant oil and gas resources for the continent to be delivered from the shackles of perpetual energy poverty and stunted economic growth.

“I implore you, Excellency, to use the opportunity of your Presidency tenure to promote the cause of Africa and attract more investments into the oil and gas industry in the continent. I am of the opinion that local content should be at the driver’s seat for investments in Africa’s oil and gas industry, for the continent to witness sustainable development,” he said.

Sylva said the on-going move to establish an African Energy Bank is a right move in the right direction.

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