The Federal Government said on Wednesday in Abuja that it would ensure “complete elimination“ of fuel queues in the country in the next two months.
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, gave the assurance while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Igwe Achese, the National President of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and his Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) counterpart, Comrade Olabode Johnson, attended the meeting.
Kachikwu, who is also the Group Managing Director of NNPC, said the corporation would pile up the nation’s reserves with all the petroleum products produced locally.
“I think if we do that although I don’t want to put a time frame but I will expect that over the next two months.
“Of course, you are aware the SAP programme begins in April so over the next two months we should see frankly a complete elimination of this.
“Our strategy is that whatever is produced in the refineries will not go for sale.
“We are going to keep them in strategic reserve, because the key problem here is that there is no reserve anytime there is gap in supply it goes off.
“So, we are going to dedicate the next couple of months to moving all the products that we produce to strategic reserve so that we can pile up reserves’ position in the nation and that will push up the reserves in the nation.
“Believe me, this is giving me and my time sleepless nights and we are working on it and we are committed to making this go away.
“ Nigerians should please bear with us.’’ Kachikwu said.
The minister said that the unions in the oil and gas industry had expressed their concerns over the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the persistent fuel scarcity in the country.
He, however, stated that the Federal Government was ready to work harmoniously with the unions to address the inadequacies in the industry.
“The PIB, the union wants us to obviously work harder than we do and try to get the PIB passed as soon as possible.
“They are worried about the fuel scarcity issue and want a long time solutions to finally resolve this issue, they are worried about the refineries and are thankful we didn’t sell the refineries without looking to work collaboratively with them to see how to make the refineries work.
They are worried about the utilization of depots and how best to do that, they are worried about “all kinds of logistics issues that plague the oil industry.
“They are worried about job loss in the sector arising from the position of majors who feel that the economy is giving rough end of the sticks and then try to whittle down staff.
The Minister assured that government would work with the oil majors to address possible job loss in the oil industry.
Also speaking to the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting with the president, the national presidents of both NUPENG and PENGASSAN, assured that the two unions would partner with the government in checking corruption in the industry.
They also pledged to continue to be part of efforts at restructuring the oil industry.
They, therefore, called for the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and urged the government to end the persistent fuel scarcity in the country.
“As leaders, we are very satisfied with what he said, the commitment and the passion he has shown for the industry.
“PIB is an executive bill; he said all the legal framework will be addressed so that it will be of benefit of Nigerians.
“The President also showed concern for pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft,’’ Johnson said.
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