As local airlines complain about a persistent scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet A1), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday dismissed their claims, saying that it has 80 million litres of the product stored in facilities nationwide.
Advising the airlines not to panic, the Corporation said the Jet A1 in store can last for 37 days.
A press release by the Corporation’s spokesman, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, stated that the assurance became necessary to douse rumours that there was shortage of aviation fuel in Nigeria.
It added that more cargoes of the product were not imported within the period to meet local demand.
“NNPC, therefore, enjoins airline operators and other consumers of the product to discountenance the rumours and go about their businesses without fear or distraction,” the statement noted.
Ughamadu urged marketers and other players in the oil sector to desist from any action that could impede supply and distribution of the product, stressing that the Corporation would do everything within its powers to sustain the seamless supply of petroleum products nationwide.
He called on Nigerians to remain vigilant and report anyone found engaging in product hoarding or diversion to the industry regulator, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), or to any law enforcement agency around them.
In the past week, local operators have complained that jet fuel was scarce in most airports, and where found was being sold at exorbitant rates.
They said the situation has horribly affected their schedules.
An airline source said that the price had also gone up from N200 to N220 to between N250 and N255 or N270, depending on the marketer.
It was gathered that Abuja and other airports up north have been worse hit as airlines have had to prepay and wait to be allocated the product before their flight operations.
Marketers in a lot of cases prefer to sell to airlines that are willing to bid higher, a source in one of the airlines alleged.
“Price has increased and domestic airlines, especially when they want to refill in Abuja, have to prepay and wait to be allocated. But in Lagos, it is cheaper than outstations because of the time it takes for trucks to get to those places,” the source said.
Just last week, the Chief Executive Officer of Skypower Express Airlines, Capt. Muhammed Joji, said about 265 Muslim pilgrims who were supposed to be airlifted from Saudi Arabia by the carrier were stranded in that country, blaming it on the scarcity of aviation fuel in Nigeria.
Joji said that the carrier’s outbound flight was disrupted as attempts to purchase aviation fuel in Lagos and Kano were futile.
The Nigerian aviation fuel market is deregulated, with prices subject to demand and market forces.
Nigeria does not produce aviation fuel and, as such, any disruption in the importation and distribution chain can force marketers to transfer additional costs to end consumers.