By Yetunde Bada
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, on Thursday directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure that petrol queues were cleared in Abuja before Sunday.
Kachikwu gave the directive at a world news conference to intimate journalists on the upcoming international oil and gas conference and exhibition tagged the Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS).
According to Kachikwu, the queues have been persistent because logistics and policy issues that could end the scarcity are largely unaddressed.
“I can tell you behind the scenes, a lot of meetings are taking place because the fuel queue issue is both logistics and policy issues.
“We will need to address fundamental policy issues to enable it go away especially in the area where the pricing is showing differentials between the landing and sales price.
“The president is obviously very committed to keeping the price of petrol at where it is because he realises and sympathises with the sufferings of Nigerians.
“I will hate for my colleagues to come and see the fuel queues so my directive to NNPC would be to get these queues out of Abuja.
“The NNPC is working round the clock on this;p if you remember when this first started in December, it was a lot more massive.
“Lagos is fuel queue-free and a lot of the state capitals are. Abuja is still struggling because of the logistics issues.
“I haven’t gone round today but when I went round yesterday there was a huge improvement and I will be instructing the NNPC to do whatever it takes to ensure there are no queues next week.
“Quite frankly, they will have to do whatever it takes to get this eliminated in Abuja.
“That is the directive I will be sending to the NNPC and let them work night and day to put a lot more efforts in trying to do this,’’ Kachikwu said.
The minister urged Nigerians to be patient about the fuel situation as there was a lot of “efficiency re-engineering’’ going on.
He said the maiden NIPS conference, which would begin on Feb. 18 and end on the feb. 23, will help Nigeria’s oil and gas industry to build its capacities and competitiveness.
On the recent rebound of Shale oil, Kachikwu explained that the bullish price rise that the oil market witnessed on the back of production cuts agreements did not worry Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
He said the slight drop in crude oil prices was not enough for OPEC to become reactionary.
“In terms of the price, I don’t think we need to be panicky about it; we hit an all-time 70 dollars per barrel in December which was a surprise to all of us.
“We are not ruffled by it, I know it has come down to highest 60 dollars now.
“Shale has got to be active and we know whenever we are in excess of 65 dollars, Shale gets very active because the fundamentals become much more supportive to Shale investments.
“I’ve always said that OPEC needs to just focus on itself and what it needs to do, and forget what is happening in Shale.
“Every OPEC producer must work hard to be a least cost producer because the truth is that if Shale can produce at 65 dollars, there is absolutely no reason why we should be struggling.
“So, upper 60 dollars is not too bad; we moved from 27 and 28 dollars; let’s not begin to complain, it is a bit too early. These things fluctuate,” Kachikwu explained.