Nigerian Senate sets up Ad-hoc committee to investigate importation of adulterated diesel

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Senate at its plenary on Wednesday set up an Ad-hoc committee to investigate importation of adulterated diesel and fuel into the

By Haruna Salami

Senate at its plenary on Wednesday set up an Ad-hoc committee to investigate importation of adulterated diesel and fuel into the country to undermine the economic prosperity of the country.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio who announced the 15-man committee appointed the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) as the chairman.

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Senate decision to set up the Ad-hoc committee was sequel to adoption of a motion on “Need to investigate the continued importation of Hazardous Petroleum Products and dumping of substandard Diesel into Nigeria” sponsored by Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong (Cross River South).

Senator Ekpeyong noted with deep concern the continued importation of hazardous petroleum product and dumping of substandard diesel into the Nigeria;

He observed that on 16th June, 2024, it was reported that 12 diesel cargoes, conveying a total of 660kt of diesel was exported by refineries to offshore Lome, Togo for further distribution to West African markets, mainly Nigeria;

“Also notes that the quality of the said diesel is below the Nigerian standard in terms of flash and Sulphur levels. However, in spite of the substandard nature of the diesel, it still finds its way into the Nigerian markets, as a track on Mt “Kallos” which arrived Lome on the 16th of June, which immediately did ship-to-ship (STS) transfer to DV MT (Matric Triumph” and then proceeded to discharge into Matric Jetty in Warri on 21st June, 2024. Thereafter, another STS was made to DV MT “Matric Pride”, which then proceeded to discharge into Obat Oil terminal on 22nd June, 2024;

He noted that the “diesel is priced below fair market value, which constitutes dumping on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which stipulates that countries are permitted to take measures to protect their local industries in the event of dumping. The WTO also recognises the impact of dumping on domestic industries, and therefore stipulates tariff regimes, such as anti-dumping duties and import restriction measures to ensure that domestic producers are not unfairly disadvantaged;

“Aware that even though the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has recently revised the standards of diesel importation into Nigeria in line with the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021, it is apparent that they are incapable of enforcing compliance with the standards;

“Also aware that NMDPRA has persistently continue to issue import licenses for diesel and jet, despite sufficient local production capacity. Therefore, the best also option for protecting Nigerians and our local refineries against dumping is to place a total ban on the importation of diesel in so far as our local refineries can meet the Nigerian demands;

“Further aware that the said ban on importation of diesel will be beneficial to the Nigerian petroleum Industry and indeed the entire nation, and as such, the NMDPRA should cease to issue import licenses in order to address all concerns. However, if the situation is allowed to continue, local production will have no option than to stop the commissioning of gasoline units and shutdown refineries until regulatory environment improves. This is against the backdrop that local production has been able to sell on 20kt of jet fuel in the last 3 months, relative to local demand of 180kt over the same period”.

Contributing to the motion, Senator Solomon Olamilekan (Ogun West), chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation expressed disappointment with the operation of if the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) by some government officials in the petroleum and gas sector, adding that “heads must roll” as the upper chamber hopes to carry out a major reform.

According to the Ogun West senator, “there are some information we can’t share here”.

The Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume in his contribution, said Dangote has complained loudly that if he had known the problems that he was going to encounter, he wouldn’t have started the Dangote Refinery as he is being frustrated locally in addition to that of the international oil companies (OIC).

He said the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) issues licences to import adulterated foreign diesel deliberately to put Dangote out of business, adding that the Ad-hoc committee should find out why Dangote Refinery is forced to sell its diesel outside the country while toxic diesel is imported into Nigeria at the same time.

The Senate after thorough debate on the motion on urgent national importance, accordingly resolves to set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to “Examine the pre-shipment and pre-discharge standard test parameters, adopted by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, with a view to uncovering loopholes, if any, exploited to get toxic cargoes into the country”.

Other prayers of the motion, which now forms the terms of reference for the Ad-hoc committee are as follow:

“Determine the level of compliance of the NNPCL’s Direct Sale and Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangements in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act, including the extent of transparency and accountability in the scheme;

“Beam legislative searchlight on the activities of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund, including payments made to transporters in the last 10 years;

“Enquire from the NNPCL the state/status of the 22 Depots built by the NNPC to eliminate road distribution of petroleum products;

“Engage with stakeholders within the oil and gas industry with a view to identifying possible gaps in regulating and strengthening the surveillance and monitoring structures in place to enable Nigeria detect violations of best practice standards in the importation of products before they enter into domestic supply chains;

“Also engage with the NNPCL with a view to understanding the extent of its determination and timelines for the start-up of Government funded oil refineries; and

“Investigate how institutions across the importation and distribution chain failed to conduct quality sampling, shipped in products without auditing, port validations by the Nigerian Customs Service; Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR); National Maritime Authority (NMA); and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON)”.

Members of the committee include Senators Asuquo Ekpeyong (Cross River South), Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi ), Tahir Monguno (Borno North), Solomon Olamilekan (Ogun West), Diket Plang (Plateau South), Ipalibo Banigo (Rivers West), Saliu Mustapha (Kwara Central), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North), Adetekumbo Abiru (Lagos East), Osita Izunaso (Imo West), Sahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North), Abdul Ningi (Bauchi Central).

The committee has three weeks to submit its report before the Senate proceeds on its annual recess at the end of July, 2024.

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