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Thousands of petrol stations face delisting threat as licence renewal deadline looms



Thousands of petrol stations face delisting threat as licence renewal deadline looms

Over 6,000 petrol stations nationwide are on the brink of being delisted from key customer express portals of major regulatory bodies due to their failure to renew operational licences by the April 16, 2024 deadline. The looming delisting, spearheaded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), threatens to disrupt the downstream oil sector and impact both motorists and marketers.

The customer express portals serve as vital platforms for oil marketers to access and pay for petroleum products across NNPC Limited and private depots, crucial for product storage and throughput. In response to the impending crisis, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), representing a significant majority of private oil marketers, has initiated negotiations with NNPC Ltd and NMDPRA to secure an extension of the renewal deadline from April to July 2024.

Abubakar Maigandi, the National President of IPMAN, emphasized the urgent need for an extension, highlighting the potential adverse effects on the downstream oil sector and the broader economy. With IPMAN representing approximately 80% of petrol retail outlets nationwide, the delisting of a substantial number of these outlets could severely disrupt the country’s fuel distribution network and exacerbate existing challenges.

Maigandi cited bureaucratic hurdles and increased renewal costs as primary reasons behind the delay in licence renewal. Despite most marketers submitting payment receipts to the regulators, delays in processing and the significant hike in renewal fees have hampered the renewal process. Previously costing between N130,000 and N150,000 per filling station, the renewal fee has skyrocketed to approximately N1 million per station, a steep increase that IPMAN considers unjustifiable.

Moreover, IPMAN criticized the regulators for their slow processing of licence applications, exacerbating the challenges faced by marketers. The association appealed for a downward review of the renewal fees, emphasizing the adverse impact on indigenous marketers if current rates are maintained.

As the April 16 deadline elapsed, only 9,000 out of the estimated 15,000 member licences were processed, leaving thousands at risk of delisting. IPMAN issued a press statement through its National Public Relations Officer (PRO), Chinedu Ukadike, urging NMDPRA and NNPC Ltd to extend the compliance deadline to July. Such an extension would provide sufficient time for reconciliation and updating of portals, preventing undue marginalization of marketers and mitigating panic buying among the public, which exacerbates fuel scarcity.

As stakeholders await further developments, the downstream oil sector remains on edge, with the fate of thousands of petrol stations hanging in the balance amidst ongoing negotiations and regulatory challenges.

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