…Fuel crisis to get worse as depots remain sealed
By LOUIS IBA
The ongoing scarcity of petrol in some parts of the country might linger longer than envisaged, as efforts by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to reopen the depots and fuel storage facilities of Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited failed yesterday.
The oil firm controls about 35 per cent of the fuel storage and distribution capacity in the country and in the past one week has had its facilities shut down, following a court order, which mandated AMCON to take over the management of the assets of the company, with a view to recovering over N40 billion debt owed some indigenous banks.
The shutdown of the oil firm had resulted in the scarcity of fuel experienced at present in the country, as more than 260 trucks belonging to the NNPC and other oil marketing firms that had queued to take petrol out of the Apapa Depot of Capital Oil for onward distribution to retail outlets in the country were currently trapped inside the depot, following the court order.
AMCON last weekend had opened negotiations with the management of Capital Oil, with a view to facilitating the re-opening of the facility. AMCON officials, Daily Sun learnt, were at Capital Oil yesterday to take stock and inventory of the assets at the depot. But Daily Sun was informed that the negotiations had collapsed, as both parties could not come to an agreeable terms.
Specifically, an insider in the negotiation said the management of Capital Oil and Gas Limited had considered the terms put forward by AMCON as amounting to a ‘total takeover’ of the assets of the company, a negation of an earlier proposal, which had suggested a debt recovery programme that would entail a collaborative effort between AMCON and Capital Oil. “Capital Oil is ready to work with AMCON, but there are irreconcilable differences in the negotiations,” said the source. “Capital Oil should be treated as a going concern because we are still in business and making money.
But the terms they brought amounted to a total takeover of the management of the company and that is not a favourable term,” said the source.
Most oil marketers had decried the continuous shutdown of the oil firm’s depot, noting that the facility remains one of the most critical loading points for marketers, and even a core facility utilized by the NNPC to store, and offload its imported fuel to various retail outlets in the country.
Corroborating the breakdown in negotiation, AMCON yesterday, in a public statement, said the talks with Capital Oil failed to yield results. “AMCON would like to inform the general public that it is fully aware of the importance of Capital Oil and Gas Limited in the distribution of petrol and related products in Nigeria,” said the debt recovery agency, adding that it “has consistently made efforts to re-open the facilities of Capital Oil and Gas granted to it by the order of court in pursuant of its statutory duties.
It is, however regrettable to announce that Capital Oil and Gas and Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah have refused to co-operate with AMCON despite several meetings, which culminated in a signed agreement.” AMCON however said it would continue with its statutory functions and strive to re-open the facilities as soon as possible.