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NLNG/NIMASA face-off: Depots run out of cooking gas

By on July 12, 2013

Major Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas) depots in Lagos, from where the product is loaded and transferred to other parts of the country, are now empty due to the lack of supply from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited.

NLNG’s inability to supply cooking gas to the domestic market is because of the blockade of its Bonny Terminal by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency over a dispute about non-payment of some fees by the company.

As a result of the latest development, over 95 per cent of plants run by LPG marketers across the country are now dry due to unavailability of the product.

Retails shops do not also have the product, thereby forcing consumers to consider an unplanned switch to kerosene and firewood.

The President, Nigeria LP Gas Association, Mr. Dayo Adeshina, who addressed journalists in Lagos on Thursday, said cooking gas was no longer available at major coastal terminals belonging to the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company and Navgas, with the exception of NIPCO, which is expected to have exhausted its stock by today (Friday).

This, according to him, is a sign that the scarcity rocking the cooking gas market has grown worse and consumers will continue to face hard times unless something urgent is done.

NIMASA had since June 21 barred NLNG cargoes from entering or leaving the loading bay at the Bonny Terminal in the Niger Delta region over non-payment of $158m in levies.

This, Adeshina said, had prevented the 9,000-tonne vessel, Gas Providence, which supplies LPG to the domestic market, from sailing and discharging its product in Lagos.

Because the NLNG supplies 98 per cent of the cooking gas consumed in Nigeria, Adeshina lamented that the NIMASA blockade had led to scarcity of the product across the nation.

The prices, he reiterated, had also gone up with a 12.5kg cylinder of gas, which normally goes for N2,800 in Lagos, now selling for between N4,000 and N5,000, and was tilting toward N6,000 in Abuja.

“None of the storage facilities in Lagos has cooking gas in their tanks. The situation started two weeks ago when the Bonny channel was blocked by NIMASA. Gas Providence, which supplies LPG to Lagos is being detained even when the owners have gone ahead to pay the statutory levies   to NIMASA,” Adeshina said.

The NLPGA boss wondered why NIMASA had continued to detain Gas Providence even after its owners had paid the required statutory levies.

Meanwhile, a fresh attempt to end the faceoff between NLNG and NIMASA failed on Thursday as the former claimed it was unaware of any intervention by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim.

NIMASA’s lawyer, Mr. Mike Igbokwe (SAN) told a Federal High Court hearing the case in Lagos that the SGF had directed the NLNG to pay the disputed $158m levy to pave the way for an out of court settlement.