It was learnt on Monday that the permits were given to marketers last Thursday by the government, which asked them to bring in the product to supplement domestic production.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency told our correspondent that the marketers would import over 400,000 metric tonnes of premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol, to augment local production.
It was also learnt that the volume of import was this high because the country’s refineries were still not producing at optimum capacities.
An official at the ministry, who pleaded not to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the subject, said, “The output from our refineries cannot meet national demand and that is why the government had to issue permits to the marketers to make supplementary importation of petrol. Some marketers have started receiving the permits and they started getting it since Thursday.
“You know some of our refineries are performing poorly and this has its effect on the volume of locally refined petroleum products. So, the permit is needed in order to keep the country wet with products for a given period of time.”
The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had last Thursday issued a 90-day ultimatum to the management of the Warri Refining and Petrochemicals Company to commence full production at the facility.
The refinery has the capacity to process 125,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Kachikwu had charged the management and staff of the company with ensuring that the plant was streamed back to full and active service within the projected period.
“Whatever you need to do to get your refinery back on track, please do it now because this is the time. It’s a 90-day fast-track programme and whatever you need me to do to make that happen, let me know,” Kachikwu was quoted as saying in a statement.
Confirming the issuance of the import permits to our correspondent, the spokesperson for the PPPRA, Mr. Lanre Oladele, said “It is true. That is all I can tell you for now.”