By Oke Peter
Smugglers of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, smuggle the commodity to as far as Burkina Faso, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Wednesday.
The corporation also stated that the commodity was being smuggled to neighbouring Ghana, adding that this was largely due to the price disparity of PMS between Nigeria and the West African countries.
The corporation’s Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Henry Ikem-Obih, disclosed this during a panel session at the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas conference in Abuja.
He explained that while the pump price of PMS in Nigeria was N145 per litre, the cost in many other West African markets was between N350 to N430 per litre.
Ikem-Obih said, “There is a fact that has been established that Nigeria’s fuel goes all the way to Ghana and in the last couple of years, we have seen that this across-the-border smuggling of PMS still goes all the way to Mali and Burkina Faso. In some cases, the report we get is that it gets to Cote d’Ivoire.
“This is one of the reasons we (NNPC) have to get involved. And one of the major reasons why that is happening is because of the differentials between the pump price of PMS in Nigeria and what obtains in those West African markets.”
He noted that smugglers saw the incentive in smuggling the product from Nigeria to other locations in West Africa, but stressed that the oil firm was working hard to close up that incentive.
Ikem-Obih said, “In some of those markets, as we speak, the pump price is around N430 per litre. So if you check the difference, wherein Nigeria it is N145 per litre, and the rest of those markets, where you get it for between N350 and N430 per litre, you will realise that clearly there are some incentives.
“However, the good news is that we have seen a reduction in the volumes being smuggled. And efforts are being made to further cut down the incentive and there is a combined effort on this.”
Ikem-Obih said the NNPC had been collaborating with the Nigeria Customs Service and other security agencies to address the issue and expressed hope that the smuggling of PMS from Nigeria would end soon.