From Uche Usim, Abuja

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Friday assured Nigerians that it would maintain its current ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) until the conclusion of ongoing engagement with the organized labour and other relevant stakeholders.

NNPC’s assurance was an apparent effort to douse the tension caused by the startling disclosure of the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr Mele Kyari, that the national oil company can no longer shoulder the N120 billion monthly subsidy payout on petrol and as such, would allow market forces dictate the price of petrol, which will likely be around N234/litre.

NNPC’s Spokesman, Dr. Kennie Obateru, on Friday, said that the Corporation, at the moment, was bearing the burden of importing refined petroleum products as the supplier of last resort to guarantee energy security for the nation.

He emphasized that the NNPC has no intention to preempt ongoing engagement with labour by unilaterally increasing the ex-depot price of petrol, even though the Corporation is bearing the burden of price differentials between the landing cost and pump price of petrol.

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He added that as a proactive organization, NNPC has made arrangements for robust stock of petroleum products in all its strategic depots across the country to keep the nation well supplied at all times.

Obateru advised petroleum products marketers not to engage in arbitrary price increase or hoarding of petrol so as not to disrupt the market.

He also urged motorists not to engage in panic buying, stressing that NNPC was committed to ensuring energy security for the country as the supplier of last resort.

He assured marketers and all other relevant stakeholders in the downstream sector of sustainable collaboration for the public interest.