Vandalised 2B pipeline at Arepo in Ogun State have been described by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as a big set back to the distribution of petroleum products across the country.
According to NNPC spokesperson, the development has cut off its distribution channel to about five petrol depots, thus, necessitating its reliance on bridging of products through trucks which have also been increased to cushion effects of the situation on product availability and distribution.
Responding to Business and Maritime’s enquiry on the current position of petroleum distribution owing to ceaseless scarcity of petrol in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, the Acting Group General Manager Public Affairs of the corporation, Mr. Fidel Pepple, said the country had before the Arepo incident contended with delicate situations in supplies and distribution of petroleum products.
He said: “The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has been able to discharge its duties effectively since January when the oil marketing firms stopped importing PMS by making up for the shortfall in supply through increased importation and increased production from our refineries. That was why when people began to spread rumours of fuel scarcity in early August, we came out to inform the public that we had up to 36 to 40 days fuel sufficiency and that people should not engage in panic buying.
“That no one noticed any shortfall in supply until three months ago in August when the unfortunate incident of the Arepo Pipeline fire occurred is a testimony to the proactive measures put in place by the corporation to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer fuel scarcity again.
But the Arepo incident compounded an already fragile situation by cutting off the distribution channel to about five depots. With this situation, we have to rely on bridging by trucks. Obviously, lifting products by trucks across a vast country like Nigeria cannot be as efficient as pumping products through pipelines and that is where the problem really lies.”
Giving an update on the status of work at the Vandalised site, Pepple explained: “Not much has changed about the situation in Arepo. You would recall that we immediately deployed our engineers and technicians to site to effect repairs shortly after the fire incident. They were attacked by suspected product thieves and three of them were killed.
“Others are still receiving treatment for various degrees of gunshot wounds at various hospitals. At this point, we are waiting for the security agencies to give us adequate security cover, the moment we get that we will mobilised to site and fix the pipeline and get it running. It would be irresponsible to mobilised people to Arepo for repair works without guaranteeing their safety under the circumstance.”