Gas marketers have revealed that a cabal of terminal operators is behind the recent product price increase.
It was gathered that the marketers, under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NLPGM), blamed the situation on the plot consisting of confident marketers who decide the price of LPG to the detriment of the average Nigerian consumer.
The President of the (NLPGM) Oladapo Olatunbosun, told the National Assembly at a session with the Senate Committee on Gas yesterday that even though the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas has provided consistent and uninterrupted supply, some group significant marketers of the product have taken prices into their own hands.
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He said, “The Cabals are making it difficult for the average Nigerian to have access to gas. As of today, gas is sold by these terminal owners for N16.8m for 20 metric tonnes, whereas NNLG sells to them for a little bit less than N9m.
“Some of them are NAVGas, NIPCOPLC, Matrix Energy Ltd, Prudent Energy Ltd, Shafa Energy, Techno Gas, StockGap Ltd, Mobil, Pan Ocean Limited, NNPC, OLogbo, NSPC Apapa, SHELL, Dozzy LPG terminal.
“When people go to fill their gas today, the least they get is N1,200 per KG; imagine the pain of Nigerians. In the Nigeria of today, can a student or menial worker afford to cook a cup of beans with a N1,200 cost of gas.”
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Speaking further, Olatunbosun explained that Nigerians have no business of buying gas at such an exorbitant price because of the volume of gas reserves and production in Nigeria.
However, the terminal operators give flimsy excuses, including foreign exchange transactions, to justify their continuous price hikes.
The NLPGM president continued, “Even countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and the rest are no match to Nigerians in terms of gas production, but the prices of gas in Nigeria is lower in those countries that here where we are the second largest producer of the gas production in Africa after Algeria, yet our people cannot afford to cook with gas.
“We produce gas more than we import; in fact, the proportion imported is so insignificant, but these cabals have refused to allow Nigerians to enjoy the dividends of this production and the efforts put in by the government.
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“These cabals have also made the practice of hiding behind forex, but the question is, does NNLG get paid in dollars? No. All the transactions are completed in naira. What is the role of forex in this situation? Where is import evidence?
“You buy gas for N9m from NNLG and pay in naira, then you sell the same gas for N16m and blackmail the government.
“When people get to our plants, and we tell them the price, they start weeping and cursing the government, whereas the government has done their best to make life bearable to the people.”
He, therefore, appealed to the Senator Jarigbe-led Committee to make urgent intervention to save the average Nigerian consumer from the terminal operators.
“If we don’t rise up and checkmate the whole thing, the gas would become a luxurious product available to only the rich.
“By December, these cabals might start to sell 20 metric tonnes for N200m. This would mean that gas will sell for 2,000 per kg and N25,000 for 12.5kg.”
“We are operating 1.2m metric tonnes per annum, but if we look at our population, we ought to be operating around 6 to 7m metric tonnes per annum. However, due to availability and affordability, we can’t operate at that level yet.
“And when gas prices went up, the level of consumption dropped; at the moment, the level of usage is between 750,000 to 900,000 metric tonnes per annum.
“And our forest will suffer for it; people will go into the deforestation to get wood and charcoals to cook.
“This is the kind of hardship that the few cabals have subjected poor Nigerians to, which is worrisome particularly because it would continue to sell the wrong perception of this administration to Nigerians as not doing anything for the public.
“The problem is that there is no regulation. NNLG is aware of all these, but they have refused to interfere in the issue.
“It seems like the voiceless have no one to defend them, hence the reason why we have come to the Senate to cry out for help for the poor Nigerians.
“They are investors, and we are not against them making profits because they put in their resources, but what is not allowed in any part of the world is making super profit.
“These cabals don’t want the industry to grow because if it grows, more investors will into the business, and they will see that there is a gap, ” Olatunbosun added.
In his response, the Senate chairman on Gas gave his assurance to the marketers over the issue.
“ I have listened to you on behalf of the committee and the Senate.
“You know that this administration has talked about improving gas supply, LPG, and there is a new revolution in terms of Compressed National Gas for vehicles to cushion the effect of the Subsidy removal.
“As it concerns your complaints that NLNG sells to the terminal owners for about 10m for 20 metric tonnes and they sell to you the markets with about N7m margin, which would have a negative multiplier effect in the value chain of that to the final consumer, this is what the Senate will not agree with. And I know the executive will not agree with it either because that is not the intention of Mr President.
“I want to thank you for your courage because it would have been possible for you to compromise at this stage, but you decided to speak up for the common man. I would do more than what you have done. When the Senate President, on a lighter note, said Nigerians have to Breathe, it doesn’t mean for the very poor, it’s for Nigerians.
“We must allow ourselves to breathe, there is nobody that is not using gas today except those in the interior villages.
“With the issue of Climate Change and greenhouse gas emissions, we will do our best as a Senate to support you and support Nigerians because we were voted to represent our people, and it is our job to protect them.”