Mainkati Baru, NNPC group managing director, said at the public hearing held by the Senate committee on public accounts in Abuja that the corporation had to carry out the massive importation after private fuel marketing companies abandoned the trade because of the high landing cost of the fuel.
This, he said, made cost recovery and profitability difficult owing to the regulated price regime.
“This is in fulfillment of (NNPC’s) statutory role of supplier of last resort to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer as a result of product unavailability,” a statement from the corporation quoted Baru as saying.
The NNPC boss, however, pointed out that cross-border smuggling owing to price disparity between Nigeria and neighbouring countries where a litre of petrol sells above N350 per litre as well as logistic issues in trucking products to different locations across the country remained serious challenges in the quest for fuel queue-free situation in the country.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producing country with over 2 million barrels per day of output, imports more than 85% needs of its PMS needs because of inadequate local refining.
Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, said on Tuesday the government was working on plans to bring in private sector investment in the repair and management of the refineries and get them up to about 90% of capacity.
“That process is almost completed now, probably in a matter of weeks, we will be announcing the winners,” he said.
“We want to get the private sector to be major investors in building new refineries.”