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Regulatory Affair: Nigerian Government begins shutdown of unlicensed fuel marketers

*The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority warns any depot, any licensed operator who supplies petroleum products to an unlicensed facility, ‘we will shut down that operator’ from June 1, 2023

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a move to ensure compliance with regulatory guidelines, the Federal Government has announced that no unlicensed petroleum product dealer would be able to load products with effect from June 1, 2023.

The government gave the warning Monday, May 22, 2023, in Abuja, FCT, through the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) at a stakeholders’ engagement on gas utilisation in the West African country.

The Authority vowed to shut down such businesses beginning from June 1, according to report.

The government also warned that from the stated deadline, anyone who wants to deal in petroleum products must obtain a licence.

It averred: “No licence, no loading of any petroleum product.”

It was learnt the fundamental objective of the stakeholders’ engagement was to enlighten operators on the need to urgently obtain the requisite petroleum storage licence and to engender the transition from white products to gas.

The NMDPRA said: “No licence, no loading. We still have like nine days to do the right thing and comply.

“As the Scripture says, obedience is better than sacrifice.

“As a regulator we prefer that people comply so that it doesn’t have adverse effects on your businesses.”

The regulator further warned unlicensed fuel marketers: “If there is no compliance, we can assure you from the Authority that from 1st of June, there will be no licence, no loading.

“Any depot, any licensed operator who supplies petroleum products to an unlicensed facility, we will shut down that operator,” Ogbugo Ukoha, Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure at NMDPRA, stated.

Ukoha restated: “I want to make a special appeal that anybody who wants to handle petroleum products in excess of 500-litre storage, is required to obtain a licence.

“Our licensing procedure includes going through what your equipment is, the distance, hazards, procedures and everything.”

The Executive Director, therefore, encouraged the operators to also take advantage of the evolving opportunities in the gas value chain, by positioning their energy needs to embrace gas derivatives.

Ukoha as well outlined the derivatives to include Liquefied Natural Gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Compressed Natural Gas, Autogas, propane and butane, adding that investing in these would help hedge against future global uncertainties that could arise from the supply of petrol and diesel.

The Authority’s 12 gazetted regulations had defined the licensing regime, procedures and standards for handling petroleum products, which when breached posed increased risks, he said.

Earlier in his address at the forum, Farouk Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NMDPRA, said the Federal Government had put in place various initiatives and policy frameworks, including the National Gas Expansion Programme and the Decade of Gas Programme to deepen the use of gas in Nigeria.

Ahmed, represented by the Executive Director, Health, Safety, Environment and Community, NMDPRA, Mustapha Lamorde, noted: “It is our hope that this engagement will create the necessary awareness and make the compelling case for industry operators to foster a compliance culture, which alone guarantees safer and sustainable facilities.” According to him, the Midstream and Downstream Gas Infrastructure Fund, as contained in the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, would catalyse gas investments in Nigeria, as the efforts at gas expansion are currently yielding results.

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