The Federal Government of Nigeria has recently announced the approval of six new companies to engage in petroleum product importation, as part of its efforts to ease the removal of fuel subsidies. The approval was disclosed by Farouk Ahmed, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Mainstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDRA), during a press briefing held at the Presidential Villa.
Ahmed emphasized that apart from the six approved companies, there were several other entities that had applied for permits to import petroleum products, indicating a significant level of interest in the fuel importation sector. He clarified that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) does not possess the authority to grant approval for importing petroleum products, addressing speculation surrounding the Dangote Group’s alleged approval.
The NMDRA Managing Director further emphasized that the authority is open to all interested parties wishing to import fuel, and anyone meeting the necessary requirements can apply for importation and gain access to the port facilities. He revealed that the six approved companies expressed their intent to commence fuel importation in July, and there were indications that more companies might follow suit in subsequent months.
Ahmed expressed confidence in the fuel supply chain, assuring the public that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has a 30-day sufficiency of fuel and anticipates no disruptions or shortages in supply or distribution. This development comes as the government seeks to facilitate the transition away from fuel subsidies, ensuring a smooth and sustainable fuel importation process.
In a related development, President Bola Tinubu has taken proactive measures to prevent ship owners from withdrawing their vessels due to excessive back charges. Zacchaeus Adedeji, the Special Adviser to the President on Revenue, led a government delegation in an interactive session with shipping stakeholders at the State House to address the issue. Adedeji emphasized the importance of maintaining a continuous flow of vessels in and out of the country and allayed concerns within the oil and gas sector.
According to reports, some ship owners had refrained from bringing their vessels to Nigeria after receiving multimillion-dollar tax bills related to unpaid duties from 2010 to 2019. To resolve the matter and ensure a smooth flow of maritime activities, a technical committee has been established to reconcile the back taxes and address the concerns of ship owners. Adedeji assured stakeholders that no vessel would be arrested or detained during this process, providing further reassurance for the uninterrupted supply of petroleum products.
The government’s approval of additional companies for fuel importation and its proactive measures to address vessel withdrawal concerns demonstrate its commitment to ensuring a stable and efficient petroleum sector. These developments mark significant progress toward the removal of fuel subsidies, as Nigeria continues to implement reforms aimed at bolstering its energy industry and fostering sustainable economic growth.
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