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PEF(M)B: Keeping the Mandate of Uniform Pump Price Nationwide

-By Danlami Nasir Isah

The country during the last yuletide witnessed seamless supply and distribution of petroleum products as the usual fuel scarcity associated with the Christmas and New year celebrations, was overcome by all stakeholders in the value chain through collaborative effort.

In addition to this, is the stability in the pump price of white petroleum products despite the increasing fluctuations in the international price of crude oil and other distribution challenges.

One agency of the federal government that deserves recognition and more stakeholder support for their contributions to uninterrupted supply of petroleum products and stability in fuel pump price, is the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board, PEF(M)B.

Without the presence of the agency, Nigerians would have been buying petroleum products at different prices in different locations due to the marginal cost of transporting the product from one location to another. For instance, petrol could be sold at N145 per litre in Lagos, but due to the cost of transportation from Lagos to Maiduguri, the product would be sold at N200 per litre in Maiduguri, a situation which may leave many consumers disadvantaged.

Thus, the core mandate of the agency which is aimed at bridging the gap in petroleum product prices, is to ensure equity in distribution and purchase of petroleum products across Nigeria.

The Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board is a scheduled Parastatal of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources established by Decree No.9 of 1975 (as amended by Decree No. 32 of 1989), mainly to administer uniform prices of petroleum products across the country. This is achieved by reimbursing a marketer’s transportation differentials for petroleum products movement from depots to their sales outlets (filling stations), in order to ensure that products are sold at government approved pump price throughout the country.

Ahmed Bobboi, Executive Secretary, PEF(M)

For so many years now, this unsung Federal government’s parastatal has been working day and night in making sure that Nigerians are not exposed to any additional hardship as related to petroleum product pump prices because of their location in the country. The Board ensures that each existing marketing company complies with the laws regarding the management of the transportation equalisation process.

The Board’s core values as enshrined by its constitutional mandate is to uphold the values that promote high ethical standards of a responsible public service organisation and is specifically committed to integrity, service, and technology.

Indeed, the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board, especially under the current dispensation, has lived up to the expectation of Nigerians. It is a fact that for almost two decades now, the prices and availability of petroleum products have never been as stable as it was in the last five years.

The Operations Department of PEF(M)B, the engine-room of the agency, has been executing its responsibility of ensuring that every loading and receiving transaction in depots throughout the country is recorded and all necessary data taken, to ensure proper and timely payment of transport cost incurred by marketers who bridge the white product.

The Board has its staff present throughout the country, where NNPC and private depots exists. It has six Zonal Offices in Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna, and Gombe. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Major and Independent marketers amongst others are partners in-progress with the PEF(M)B.

So far, the Board has been deploying technology to achieve its core mandate especially in the area of product supply and distribution. With the help of advanced technology, an in-house business solution, Project Aquila, a fully transparent and technology-driven process of dispatching and receiving trucks at the depots to reduce leakages in the system and faster processing/payment of claims was developed by the Board. With the computerised application, billions of litres moved yearly by marketers are monitored by PEF(M)B staff present at over 100 locations across the country.

According to PEF(M)B, the deployed technology gives accurate information on the movement of petroleum products across the nation. The system guarantees proper monitoring, reception, loading and delivery of products. The Board is currently working on enhancing its business processes through a project referred to as the Downstream Automated Fuel Management Information System, DAFMIS. The sensor monitoring technology is expected to give accurate data on the availability of products right from the tank farms; providing the statistics needed for planning.

Stakeholders are happy with the Ahmed Bobboi led Management of the Board due to its regular interface and collaborative meetings with their leadership to discuss various ways of enhancing service delivery.

One major challenge faced by the Board and its stakeholders in their effort towards effective service delivery is the infrastructure deficit facing the transportation of petroleum products. In Nigeria, petroleum products are mainly transported by trucks to the nooks and crannies of the country. This puts heavy burden on the nation’s maintained roads. Pipeline product transportation, which is desirable, hasn’t worked effectively for the country due to the activities of pipeline vandals.

In view of this, the visionary leadership of Alhaji Ahmed Bobboi has been up and doing in finding various options that will make the transportation of white products seamless and effective. While giving a hint on what his Board is doing on the issue, Bobboi said that the Board will commence the transportation of petroleum products through the railway. He however explained that the project is being delayed because of the Federal Government’s proposed policies of privatisation of the railways.

He stated that the agency was waiting to determine the direction of the government as regards the rail system, so that it can enter into discussions with the eventual managers of the railway on the modalities for the transportation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, (LPG) through the railways.

“We planned to introduce the railway equalisation programme last year, but certain developments delayed it. One of the developments is the government policy of divesting from that area, because government is considering the concessioning of the management of the railway system.”

He added that the Board was also considering transportation of petroleum products through the waterways, adding that the introduction of alternative means of transportation of the products would reduce the pressure on the roads and create employment opportunities for Nigerians.

“We are also thinking about marine transportation in the near future. This is because we believe that if we introduce alternative means of transporting the products, it would reduce the pressure on our roads, reduce the wear and tear of the roads, it would also create job opportunities for people who want to work in those areas,” Bobboi added.

Another area where the Board is making impressive effort, is its drive to encourage the use of cooking gas in the country through its plans to extend its services to equalisation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), so as to enable more Nigerians to use gas for cooking instead of kerosene or firewood. This will discourage deforestation and is in-line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

He also stated that the project which will ensure the equalisation of the cost of cooking gas across the country will when fully implemented save the government the huge funds currently being spent on importing kerosene.